The Other Provisions in the Senate Bailout Bill


An Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch, a mental health parity bill, a package of tax break extensions, and tax breaks and relief for victims of natural disasters, specifically Hurricane Ike. These don’t sound like they have any relation to the relief of an financial crisis, but, as of today, they will all play a major role. The new massive bailout package — sorry, “rescue” package — introduced in the Senate includes all of these measures. The inclusion of these measures could help push the underlying Emergency Economic Stabilization Act through Congress or torpedo it by injecting inter-chamber politics into an already tense political situation.

At the heart of the tacked-on legislation is a combination of an AMT patch and tax break extensions for corporations and renewable energy investments. Senate Democrats, most prominently Sen. Max Baucus, believe that the inclusion of these measures will help draw the support of House Republicans who previously voted down Monday’s bailout bill. However, this measure is already drawing the ire of House Democrats, including Blue Dogs and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

The AMT/tax break extension package was previously passed by the Senate, but House leaders, pushed by Hoyer and the Blue Dogs, intended on shelving the proposal due to its failure to abide by pay-as-you-go rules (providing offsetting cuts to go with revenue reductions). The inclusion of the package in the bailout bill will revive the animus between the two Democratic factions. Hoyer has already stated that the inclusion of the “tax extenders” is “controversial” and was included only because “they thought that’s the only way they could get it passed.” Of course, the Blue Dogs, being prominent supporters of the bailout bill, may find themselves in a situation where this compromise is the best they can get.

Seeing as how every vote counts at this point — the bailout only needs 12 votes to pass in the House — the inclusion of the mental health parity legislation previously passed by the House could help sway one or two votes. The chief Republican cosponsor of the bill, Rep. Jim Ramstad, voted against the bailout bill on Monday. Also, one the bill’s seven cosponsors, Rep. Pete Stark, also voted against the bailout. The inclusion of the defining bill of Ramstad’s career, as he retires this year, could be enough to sway this one vote into the “yes” column.

In classic congressional fashion, the Senate has decided to use a crisis piece of legislation as a way to push through a massive package of other priorities forcing an inter-chamber factional battle to come to a head. The inclusion of this controversial legislation could also serve as a remedy to the current failure in the House.

Poison pill or appeasing antidote? We’ll wait and see.

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  • Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  • kEVIN

    when the banks get money they used barrow it at 12 dollars to every 1 they had in equity.As of 2004 it in now 40 to 1.Lets built that debit up and barrow more money and loan it to people who should not be getting any money and who in normal times could not get a loan anyway

  • Bryant Arms

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the recent overhaul of bankruptcy legislation was designed for this economic situation; it turns human debtors into indentured servant. And that is necessary for the following reason:

    The ’sssssss’ we are noticing with this credit crunch is just the leak before the big burst. This credit bubble has been inflated by a logorithmic base 10 scale of dollar creation.
    The practice of using 90% of ‘real’ wealth for lending that can then be invested and re-deposited for recycling again and again for more and more credit probably has the same effect of simply printing more money. The difference between those two ways of creating wealth is that creating money by credit inflation redistributes wealth for the benefit of financiers. And printed money is real; not fake.

    This credit bubble burst should, then, be creating a shortage of money. And the cure may be as simple as the government printing more money. The only problem with that scheme is that there would not be another bubble to burst to correct for over-inflation. Printed dollars don’t evaporate away like the ones the financiers are trying to sell taxpayers now.

    And that is why those who have engineered this bubble need those new draconian bankruptcy laws. Only wage earners can turn this fake money into real wealth. And that is why the Bush administration and other supporters of the great bailout plan are adamantly against giving bankruptcy judges the right to restructure debt according to who is most responsible for making bad loans.

    Bryant Arms

  • jim

    If it passes, it won’t matte who gets to be President, the secretary of the treasury will have all the power.

  • Please let it be a poison pill . . .