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POLITICS

Superyacht makers really need lobbyists

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

My Washington Examiner colleague Timothy Carney, indefatigable chronicler of K Street, points out that the United States Superyacht Association has hired a Washington lobbyist. But they have at least some reason to do so. Back around 1990 congressional Democrats slapped an excise tax on the sale of superyachts. That’ll serve those rich people right!

But of course the rich weren’t hurt. They could buy a superyacht in another country and berth it in a favorable jurisdiction (as John Kerry, then a senator from Massachusetts, berthed his superyacht in Rhode Island, where the tax was lower). The people who got hurt when business fell off were the modest-income men and women who built the superyachts. It turned out that a lot of them were in Maine, then represented in the Senate by Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell. And, pronto, the superyacht tax was repealed.

That was long enough ago that it may have faded from the memory of current members of Congress. Only 20 current senators and 38 current representatives were members of Congress in 1990. So a superyacht supertax is once again a possibility — or at least so it seems to the superyacht firms who are ponying up to pay for Washington representation.

For those of us with Washington real estate, this is, of course, not a bug but a feature.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner