Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) was on the defense as members of the state capitol press corps in Helena peppered him with questions on the tax breaks and other perks handed to several large corporations in the last minute fiscal cliff “deal.”
In John Adams’ Great Falls Tribune video, featured above, reporters also questioned Baucus for the role his former staff members played in lobbying. The questions stem from an article and series of reports I have been sharing since last week that were written by The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney.
Here’s an excerpt from Adams’ story in today’s Tribune:
The package of extenders inserted by the White House into the fiscal cliff bill contained 52 tax break extensions for corporations totaling $64 billion. Some of the tax breaks went to specific companies such GE, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, JPMorgan Chase and NASCAR. Another tax break benefits rum producers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Now to be honest, there were a couple in there I was not happy with,” Baucus said. “One that’s come out in the press, quite frankly, I’m not very happy with, and I don’t know how it got in there. And I made that view known to my office.”
Asked Thursday about the connection between his former staffers and recipients of the extended tax breaks, Baucus said: “The main thing is to just keep our eye on the ball.”
Lee Newspapers’ statewide political reporter Mike Dennison also questioned Baucus over elements included in Carney’s initial reporting. He did not; however, mention the ties to lobbyists and Baucus’ former staff members.
…the package also extended for a year about 50 tax credits, estimated to cost the U.S. Treasury some $64 billion.
But they also included things like the “active financing exception,” which allows businesses that earn interest on overseas lending to defer taxes on those earnings indefinitely. Corporate giants like General Electric and Citigroup are big beneficiaries.
Baucus said Thursday that there are some credits in the package that “I’m not happy with,” but he declined to say which ones.
And, as I previously noted here on this blog and on our statewide radio talk show, all these “corporate goodies” come at the same time as the rest of us 99%-er’s are seeing our payroll taxes hike up by 2%. KRTV looked at the impact of the payroll tax increase on the average Montanan:
Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) voted for for the bill containing the payroll tax increase.
Baucus said, “You know, it’s a trade-off. Most Montanans want a strong Social Security trust fund. The payroll tax contributes to Social Security. Montanans, Americans don’t want a reduction in the payments from the Social Security trust fund. To keep the solvency of the Social Security trust fund it’s important to keep that tax.”
Tim Carney, the reporter who first reported all of this information, now has a follow-up post, noting that Baucus’ staff is claiming some of these tax breaks may get a 2nd look later in 2013. (By then, of course, the campaign checks from said corporations will already be on hand for 2014.)
This backs up some of what I’ve already heard: some of this year’s extenders may be killed in 2013 as part of a broader reform. We hear this sort of thing a lot, but here’s the Finance Committee Chairman putting his name on the idea.