Is There Pork in the Tax Deal?

by Daniel Foster

We all know the big line items in the tax deal, but some of the “business extenders” in the deal’s fine print are being called earmarks. 

Among the roughly $55 billion (or about seven percent of the overall size of tax relief in the bill) in extenders: Production tax credits for biodiesel; tax credits for “green” homebuilders; tax credits for ethanol; deductions for oil companies. They certainly sound porky.

But while such incentives may be dubious tax policy, they aren’t earmarks per se. Earmarking is an arbitrary, opaque, and unaccountable process for spending tax dollars.  But however ugly the process, the net effect of these extenders — many of which have already been renewed a number of times — is preventing tax increases.

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