"Fiscal cliff" bill had some hidden pork

The "fiscal cliff" law passed so quickly, many in Congress never realized it was full of special interest tax breaks. One tax write off allows auto racetrack owners to speed up their tax deductions while another write off goes to Hollywood any time a TV show or movie is shot in an economically depressed area of the US.

By Wyatt Andrews
January 2, 2013 7:01 PM
CBS News

(CBS News) The "fiscal cliff" law passed so quickly, many in Congress never realized it was full of special interest tax breaks, one of which allows auto racetrack owners to speed up their tax deductions.

Another tax write off goes to Hollywood -- a $20 million break anytime a TV show or movie is shot in an economically depressed area of the United States.

There's a subsidy for rum made in Puerto Rico, a tax break if you train a mine rescue worker, and a tax credit for every kilowatt of electricity produced by wind.

All told, the fiscal cliff law designed to reduce the deficit, added $74 billion in spending through changes in the tax law.

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who voted "no" on the bill, says many House members felt blindsided by tax breaks that were never publicly debated.

"Absolutely it is filled with pork," Issa said. "And it is pork particularly because they couldn't get these through any other way except by throwing them into a bill like this."

Supporters of the tax provisions say they will create jobs. Dan Houser of the International Speedway Corporation, the owner of NASCAR, says faster tax write-offs lead to more investment in tracks and stadiums.

"It's not a tax break. What it is doing is creating shovel-ready capital investment in communities that desperately need jobs," Houser said.

The issue with these middle-of-the-night tax breaks is that for many in Congress who had sworn off pork barrel spending, these represent a new level of pork.

Earmarks used to come from an individual member of congress, but tax code changes are more likely to come from lobbyists.

Tax reform over the long-term was supposed to be part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, but this bill complicates that. The idea behind the reform was that you lower rates for everyone but you pay for that by closing loopholes.

Last night, Congress just added $70 billion worth of new loopholes.

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