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POLITICS

‘Fix the Debt’ media stars lobby for special tax breaks and subsidies for clients

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Republican former congressman Jim McCrery plays a public-spirited anti-debt crusader on TV, and a lobbyist for corporate cash and special-interest tax carveouts during the day.

Nick Confessore, the New York Times‘ sharp money-in-politics reporter has a good story on the day jobs of some “Fix The Debt” types.

In the weeks ahead, many of the campaign’s members will be juggling their private interests with their public goals: they are also lobbyists, board members or executives for corporations that have worked aggressively to shape the contours of federal spending and taxes, including many of the tax breaks that would be at the heart of any broad overhaul. Indeed, while Fix the Debt criticized the recent fiscal deal between Mr. Obama and lawmakers, saying it did not do enough to cut spending or close tax loopholes, companies and industries linked to the organization emerged with significant victories on taxes and other policies.

The Times begins with McCrery, a spokesman for the “Fix the Debt” campaign. Confessore notes that the former congressman is a lobbyist at Capitol Counsel, where his clients include General Electric. Let me provide some more points revealed by federal lobbying filings:

  • McCrery was on the lobbying team that pushed, on GE’s behalf, for wind tax credits and tax breaks for offshore financial subsidiaries — breaks that ended up in the fiscal cliff deal.
  • The American Health Care Association — the lobby group for nursing homes — wants to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an agency dedicated to controlling the growth of Medicare spending. McCrery is on their IPAB lobbying team.
  • McCrery lobbied for the American Wind Energy Association’s wind tax credits.
  • McCrery lobbied on behalf of Beam, Inc. for special tax breaks for Virgin Islands liquor production.

Confessore also mentions Fix The Debt spokesman Sam Nunn, a boardmember at GE. GE, Confessore writes “is among the most aggressive in the country at minimizing its tax obligations.” I would add that, over the past three fiscal years, GE has received $7.2 billion in federal contracts, and hundreds of millions in grants and other subsidies.

Lobbyist Vic Fazio, a former Democratic Congressman, is also part of Fix the Debt, Confessore reports. His clients include Archer Daniels Midland, which has spent decades lobbying for and profiting from ethanol subsidies. He also has plenty of clients seeking appropriations.

One is tempted to ask these elder statesmen to fix the debt by convincing their lobbying clients to get off the public dole.

 

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