Tax wonk Len Burman wrote a letter-cum-blog post to Jon Stewart today over at TaxVox explaining how there really is spending in the tax code through tax credits. You see, Stewart gave President Obama a hard time last month about “reducing spending in the tax code” which JS wrongly interpreted as Newspeak. Burman then goes on to give an
shitty perfect example of just how ridiculous tax credits have gotten (in case you weren’t aware already):
You don’t believe there’s spending in the tax code??? Here’s a real life example: the chicken-s**t tax credit. Really, section 45 of the Internal Revenue Code. You can look it up. The late Senator Roth of Delaware (home of lots of chickens and “poultry manure,” as it’s euphemistically called) put this little goody into our tax laws. Here’s the backstory: the EPA said that enormous chicken farms could no longer put their poultry waste in pools or bury it because it poisoned the ground water. One of the best options to meet the new requirement was to dry the vile effluent and burn it to make electricity, but that was still costly. Roth didn’t want chicken farmer profits to plummet or chicken and egg prices to rise just because farmers couldn’t use the earth as a giant toilet, so he pushed through the chicken s**t tax credit to create a profitable market for that (as well as all sorts of other crap).
Burman not only explains to Stewart that using tax credits to keep chicken feces out of the water isn’t a good thing but by mocking the President, he also may have inadvertently helped tax executioner Grover Norquist:
Arch-conservative Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, leader of the bipartisan “gang of six,” has said that he’d support tax increases so long as they didn’t include rate increases. That is, he wants to rein in subsidy programs run by the IRS.
This is important. Coburn was willing to take on Grover Norquist, who has very effectively prevented any sensible compromise on the budget by insisting that cutting tax subsidies would violate the taxpayer protection pledge that he strong-armed most Republicans to sign. Now Grover can use your laugh line to reinforce Republican intransigence and doom any chance of bipartisan cooperation.
And to indirectly (or perhaps directly) support taxpayer funding of chicken-shitless water.