Senate 'Bailout' Bill a Bizarre Blend Indeed

Call it what you will, but the $700,000,000,000 credit rescue Bill that passed the Senate last night is one strange piece of lawmaking.  Take one part Monday's failed H.R. 3997 and soften it to liberal pleasure. Now add it to a mental health parity measure that's languished on Capitol Hill so long it's got Paul Wellstone's name in its main title. Add a one-year patch to the alternative minimum tax, a dash of disaster relief for Hurricane Ike victims, a green energy Bill that might well have otherwise been adorned with veto ink, and plenty of porcine fat  - now stir well, and Voilà!

The "bailout plan" itself, H.R. 5685 (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008) , is being bundled as an amendment to H.R.1424, a Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) Bill that modifies sections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 "to require equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans." The pure perfection of their fit is surely undeniable to all but the most cynical.

According to the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Bill passed the House and was received in the Senate in March of this year.  Oddly enough, Wednesday was the first time it was ever brought to the Senate floor for consideration. 

The new Bill also snuck in Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) H.R. 6049 (the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008) which had already added the ‘Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008'' in addition to "Heartland and Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief" to its broadly green legislation.  Simpatico measures, to be sure.

Rangel's Bill had passed both houses -- the Senate just last month -- but had been awaiting President Bush's signature, which, according to a Statement of Administration Policy, was far from a slam dunk.  The Bill includes a hodgepodge of green initiatives, including a "Carbon Audit of the Tax Code" which states that:

"The Secretary of the Treasury shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a comprehensive review of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to identify the types of and specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects."

Apropos indeed. 

And just for good measure, they added a dozen or so patently inappropriate tax breaks.  From makers of kids' wooden arrows to race-track owners to Virgin Island rum-producers, lawmaker's just couldn't resist scoring home-town points even during what some are calling "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

As to the "bailout" provisions themselves, in addition to establishing the "Troubled Asset Relief Program (‘TARP') to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions," the Senate version "raises the debt ceiling from $10 trillion to $11.3 trillion" and adds a number of sections the left had been insisting on.  These include foreclosure mitigation efforts, executive compensation and corporate governance, and recoupment from the financial industry of losses to the taxpayer. Additionally, the FDIC insurance limit would be temporarily increased to $250,000.

This strange amalgam was passed by the Senate last night 74-25.  It now moves back to the House, for consideration today, where opportunists get another shot at marking it up further with extraneous pet-projects at the bargaining table.   

There was genuine concern voiced that provisions added to appease the left might send congressmen on the right who voted "Aye" on Monday running for the hills on Friday. 

There were similar concerns expressed about the reverse dilemma arising.

But if there was any real give on the part of Senate Democrats in modifying this "emergency" Bill, it sure as hell escapes me.
 
You can argue the merits of such a huge government incursion into the private sector, but can anyone defend the job that same government has done handling the problem thus far? 

What a mess.

Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments.
Call it what you will, but the $700,000,000,000 credit rescue Bill that passed the Senate last night is one strange piece of lawmaking.  Take one part Monday's failed H.R. 3997 and soften it to liberal pleasure. Now add it to a mental health parity measure that's languished on Capitol Hill so long it's got Paul Wellstone's name in its main title. Add a one-year patch to the alternative minimum tax, a dash of disaster relief for Hurricane Ike victims, a green energy Bill that might well have otherwise been adorned with veto ink, and plenty of porcine fat  - now stir well, and Voilà!

The "bailout plan" itself, H.R. 5685 (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008) , is being bundled as an amendment to H.R.1424, a Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) Bill that modifies sections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 "to require equity in the provision of mental health and substance-related disorder benefits under group health plans." The pure perfection of their fit is surely undeniable to all but the most cynical.

According to the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Bill passed the House and was received in the Senate in March of this year.  Oddly enough, Wednesday was the first time it was ever brought to the Senate floor for consideration. 

The new Bill also snuck in Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) H.R. 6049 (the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008) which had already added the ‘Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008'' in addition to "Heartland and Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief" to its broadly green legislation.  Simpatico measures, to be sure.

Rangel's Bill had passed both houses -- the Senate just last month -- but had been awaiting President Bush's signature, which, according to a Statement of Administration Policy, was far from a slam dunk.  The Bill includes a hodgepodge of green initiatives, including a "Carbon Audit of the Tax Code" which states that:

"The Secretary of the Treasury shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a comprehensive review of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to identify the types of and specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects."

Apropos indeed. 

And just for good measure, they added a dozen or so patently inappropriate tax breaks.  From makers of kids' wooden arrows to race-track owners to Virgin Island rum-producers, lawmaker's just couldn't resist scoring home-town points even during what some are calling "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

As to the "bailout" provisions themselves, in addition to establishing the "Troubled Asset Relief Program (‘TARP') to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions," the Senate version "raises the debt ceiling from $10 trillion to $11.3 trillion" and adds a number of sections the left had been insisting on.  These include foreclosure mitigation efforts, executive compensation and corporate governance, and recoupment from the financial industry of losses to the taxpayer. Additionally, the FDIC insurance limit would be temporarily increased to $250,000.

This strange amalgam was passed by the Senate last night 74-25.  It now moves back to the House, for consideration today, where opportunists get another shot at marking it up further with extraneous pet-projects at the bargaining table.   

There was genuine concern voiced that provisions added to appease the left might send congressmen on the right who voted "Aye" on Monday running for the hills on Friday. 

There were similar concerns expressed about the reverse dilemma arising.

But if there was any real give on the part of Senate Democrats in modifying this "emergency" Bill, it sure as hell escapes me.
 
You can argue the merits of such a huge government incursion into the private sector, but can anyone defend the job that same government has done handling the problem thus far? 

What a mess.

Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments.