WASHINGTON - May 14 - The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is outraged by the U.S. Senate's passage this week of the Jumpstart Our Business Strength Act (S. 1637). What started as the Congressional repeal of a $5 billion-a-year export subsidy prohibited under international trade agreements became another money-grab by wealthy corporate interests. The pork barrel laden bill was adopted at a budget-busting cost of $170 billion. Among others, the long list of corporate special interests that benefit include horse- and dog-track owners, cruise-ship operators, NASCAR track owners, Oldsmobile dealers, and multi-national corporationsmany of which send their jobs overseas. Oil and gas subsidies alone account for about $5 billion in tax breaks in the bill.
"This bill exemplifies again the misplaced priorities of our national leaders," said Marian Wright Edelman President and Founder of CDF. "For less than the cost of these tax breaks, Congress could have provided Head Start for every eligible child or provided every uninsured child in America with comprehensive health care for the next decade. They have chosen not to. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously cautioned 'The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.' We find ourselves today clearly failing that test."
CDF applauds Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for offering a voice of reason against this legislation during the Senate floor debate. His words should be remembered when the House of Representatives takes up their version of the bill. Senator McCain said, "It is remarkable, with a half trillion [dollar] deficit, and we are enacting new tax credits forguess whothe oil and gas industry in America which, the last time I checked, is doing pretty well. The majority of my colleagues on this side of the aisle just voted against an extension of the unemployment benefits for Americans who remain unemployed and haven't profited by this reemerging and strengthening economy. My God, we won't give them an extension of their unemployment benefits. But if the ethanol people of Archer Daniels Midland need it, by God, we will give it to them
$170 billion in tax credits but no extension of unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work, it is a remarkable commentary."
CDF finds the actions of the Senate this week both remarkable and sad, and calls on President Bush to reject these irresponsible and immoral tax breaks.