It’s good to know our elected leaders are listening to the people.
That is until Wednesday when the Senate decided to pass the “housing bailout” bill by a 74-25 vote. Entitled the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,” it possibly becomes the most misnamed bill in Senate history.
Since I apparently need to work on my social life, I actually took the time to read much of the 451 page bill.
Who needs sleeping pills?
Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the provisions in the “stabilization” bill.
Under the “troubled asset” section, a troubled asset is any residential or commercial mortgage or any security, obligation or other instrument related to such mortgages originated before March 14, 2008. (So far, so good.) It also includes any other financial instrument that the Treasury Secretary determines the purchase of which is necessary to promote financial market stability.
Any other financial instrument? Hey Paulson, how about paying off my credit card? That would certainly stabilize my financial market.
OK, what else is in this laugh-a-minute read? How about an entire section devoted to – wait for it – energy improvement. Because there’s nothing more important to homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments than making sure we have ample tax credits for carbon dioxide sequestration. (What the….?)
Oh, wait. Maybe I rushed to judgment here. Apparently this bill will extend the energy efficient home credit for an additional year. That should help. Also, there are tax credits for energy efficient appliances produced after 2007.
So, if your Maytag meets certain requirements, you can get $45 back for a dishwasher, $75 for a top-loading clothes washer or $100 for a refrigerator which consumes “at least 25 percent but not more than 29.9 percent less kilowatts per hour than the 2001 energy conservation standards.”
Hallelujah! Housing crisis solved!
Thank goodness Section 305 defines top-loading clothes washers as “a clothes washer which has the clothes container compartment located on the top of the machine and which operates on a vertical axis.”
I’m glad they cleared up that confusion. Just what would we do without Congress?
Here’s something interesting. In Title IV, section 402, subsection (a) – the disclosure of return information to apprise appropriate officials of terrorist activities – Subparagraph (C) of section 6103(i)(3) is amended by striking clause (iv).
I’m not really sure, but this action either successfully defeats terrorists or it gives tax breaks to the makers of Osama bin Laden Halloween beards.
Let’s get serious for a minute and check out section 122. Simply stated, it raises the federal debt ceiling to $11.35 trillion.
Listen up people, this bill will most assuredly increase the federal debt and will increase the burden on future generations. What about the children? Answer: let them pay for our mistakes.
Enough of that, what else do we have in this bad boy? Let see: We’ve got tax breaks for builders of auto racing facilities (vote buy for Southern lawmakers), tax breaks for film and television production (vote buy for Hollywood and Orlando representatives) and tax breaks for wool research (vote buy for Scottish highlanders). Then there’s tax breaks for rum producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (vote buy for alcoholic lawmakers, which coincidentally buys a lot of votes).
By far, this is my absolute favorite. Section 503 calls for an “exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.” (To quote Dave Barry, “I’m not making this up.”) This should really help homeowners, if they happen to work for Rose City Archery in Myrtle Point, Oregon, that is.
Bottom line: I think this bill just doesn’t go far enough. Sure, it might provide to investment bankers a way to sell off their bad mortgage investments without showing a loss to their bottom line. Certainly it gives energy producers plenty of tax breaks to invest in alternative energy like geothermal heat pumps, hydrokinetic renewables and coal gasification. And, yes, it even includes tax benefits for fishermen and others who suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
But until we include an exemption from excise taxes for wooden arrows to be used by adults as well as children, this bill is incomplete. Only then, will the housing crisis be solved.
Phil Boyum will never be able to afford a house because he has a front-loading clothes washer. He may be reached at (912) 489-9454 or by e-mail at pboyum@statesboro-