The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

General Electric and business as usual in Congress

A WaPo piece today analyses a nifty piece of lobbying from the top US company (by market capitalisation) which seems set fair to produce a rate of return on investment that its manufacturing divisions could scarcely dream of.

Though the piece declines to say, we are talking about HR 4520 and S 1637 [1]: the provision on baskets (the piece explains) is §303 of HR 4520 (apparently, this gizmo was a little too rich for the Senate Finance Committee, so it's not in S1637); the provision on aircraft leasing - in which GE is a world leader, it seems - is §221 of S 1637; §315 of HR 4520 covers aircraft leasing in a different way.

I'm not interested in the technicalities, though, but the ease with which this sort of transaction is done - and the trivial sums that legislators' campaigns pocket in comparison with the deep inroads they allow contributors to make into the Treasury's coffers in return.

For instance,
Of one provision eventually worth $2 billion a year, GE will reap an "overwhelming percentage," said John Buckley, chief tax counsel for the Democratic staff of the House Ways and Means Committee.

I think he's referring to the baskets amendment: the leasing amendment is, the piece says, liable to cost $2 billion over ten years.

So, what resistance, you might ask, was put up by the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party? On passage of HR 4520, no fewer than 48 Dems supported the bill, which passed 251-178. And S 1637 passed 92-5; of those opposing two (Bob Graham and Fritz Hollings) were Dems! The presumptive John Kerry was absent, needless to say.

Why Comstock Queen Nancy Pelosi could round up most of her forces to oppose this No Lobbyist Left Behind Bill, whilst Mr Ethanol Tom Daschle managed virtually zimmo, I know not. Perhaps the Senate bill is vastly superior.

  1. Which I mentioned in another connection on May 12.

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