Congress F*cks America In Budget Deal
Items Sneaked Into the Budget Bill Congress Doesn’t Want You to See That F*cked America.
The $1.1 trillion budget bill just signed into law by President Obama is the last thing Congress passed before adjourning for the year and heading home. Lawmakers knew this was a must-pass bill to avoid a government shutdown, so they made sure to pack it full of goodies for their top donors. What’s been largely missed in the breadth of coverage about this bill is just how atrocious many of these last-minute provisions are, that were hidden in the bill’s enormous volume of text at late-night hours.
1. Ban on domestic oil exports lifted
Since the Gerald Ford administration, Congress has banned the sale of American oil to the international market. The ban was largely to benefit American oil refineries, who need the ban to compete with oil refineries in countries that operate cheaply due to the lack of clean air regulations. But after the ban on oil exports is lifted, many American refineries could run the risk of shutting down, since oil companies can refine their oil outside of the US and turn even larger profits. This move will benefit the companies in a major way, rewarding them for their investment in lobbying and campaign contributions. In 2013 and 2014 alone, Big Oil spent over $326 million on buying politicians and Congressional votes.
2. There’s enough corporate tax breaks to provide free college to everyone for 9 years
One of the major provisions of the spending bill was the “Tax Extenders” package, which makes a vast number of tax breaks permanent. While some of the tax breaks will help working families, like the extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, 60 percent, or roughly $350 billion of the tax breaks are for corporations. This includes a tax break called “active financing” which helps corporations keep money made in the US stashed in overseas tax havens. The $622 billion in tax breaks is enough to fund tuition-free public college for 9 years.
3. Ban on IRS action against organizations abusing their tax exempt status
One of the main campaign finance wins for the GOP was hamstringing the IRS’ enforcement of tax-exempt rules for nonprofit organizations that engage in illegal activity. Now, when a 501(c)(4) organization engages in illegal political activity, it runs essentially zero risk of losing its tax-exempt status. This will likely pave the way for politically-active C4 organizations, like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, to take in even more money from undisclosed donors. Theoretically, this could mean that foreign governments could spend money influencing American elections, as a former FEC commissioner noted.
4. Corporations don’t have to disclose political activity to shareholders
On page 1,982 of the budget bill, Republicans concealed language that prevents the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring corporations disclose their political activity to shareholders. This is likely a response to grassroots mobilization among shareholders demanding the companies they invest in dicslose how they spent their vast reserves to influence elections. With the passage of this bill, there’s no way the federal government can require disclosure.
5. CISA surveillance bill added
In the wake of the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, Congress renewed its push for the Cyber Internet Security Act (CISA) a controversial internet surveillance bill that would give private companies legal immunity from sharing users’ most intimate data with the federal government. House Speaker Paul Ryan snuck CISA into the must-pass budget bill to bypass procedural holdups. It would also make it even easier for the government to spy on citizens’ internet activity, streamlining the process between the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, and federal courts.
“Unfortunately, this misguided cyber legislation does little to protect Americans’ security and a great deal more to threaten our privacy than the flawed Senate version,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said in a public statement. “Americans demand real solutions that will protect them from foreign hackers, not knee-jerk responses that allow companies to fork over huge amounts of their customers’ private data with only cursory review.”
6. Country of origin labels on meat repealed
While the food industry didn’t get the GMO labeling ban it lobbied for, it did get a major win in the budget bill as Republicans repealed Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef, poultry, and pork. COOL is a common-sense measure that helps grocery shoppers make informed decisions by letting them know where their food comes from.
As a result of COOL repeal, American livestock farmers will lose business when competing with factory farming operations overseas.
“They’re importing meat from Brazil, and they’re going to ship it out of Brazil and bring it into this country,” Nebraska cattle farmer Jim Dinklage told NPR. “(Beef) would go the same way as the textile industry.”
7. Wall Street deregulation
In addition to all of the new provisions in this year’s budget bill, one of the worst riders from the 2014 “cromnibus” bill that deregulated derivatives trading on Wall Street will remain in effect. The deregulation bill reverses portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act of 2010, and allows big banks to get away with the same high-risk gambling on complex financial instruments that caused the 2008 financial crisis. Wall Street lobbyists actually wrote most of the language in the bill that was snuck into last year’s budget bill.
8. Ban on DC marijuana legalization remains in effect
The final fuck-you from Congress to the American people was directed at voters in Washington, DC, who approved a ballot measure that allowed for the legalization and taxation of marijuana for recreational use. In 2014, Congress’ budget deal prevented DC, whose budget is set by Congress, from implementing the law the people voted for. This year’s budget deal renews that ban.
Note from the editor:
We removed one of the items on this list, we didn’t feel the gun control issue that was constitutionally supported in this argument, we do however firmly agree on all of these measures passed except for #2.
U.S. Uncut fails to recognize that a large majority of these so called mass shootings are highly orchestrated events meant to disarm law abiding citizens to take our rights away. Upholding the ban was the actual only positive note on this report. Here is what they said in their report.
‘While Republicans were successful in lifting the ban on domestic oil exports, Democrats failed to lift the ban on publicly-funded scientists studying the underlying origins of gun violence. So far in 2015, more than 457 people have died from 357 mass shootings. But the total number of gun deaths this year is far more terrifying — 12,783 people have been killed by guns this year, and another 25,828 were injured, according to gunviolencearchive.org. Congress still won’t allow the Centers for Disease Control to study these incidents and learn about what leads to gun violence, extending the ban on public gun violence research earlier this year.’