WASHINGTON - Here, little piggies!
Congressional deal-brookers yesterday slopped a mess of pork into the $700 billion financial rescue bill passed by the Senate last night - including a tax break for makers of kids' wooden arrows - in a bid to lure reluctant lawmakers into voting for the package
Stuffed into the 451- page bill are more than $1.7 billion worth of targeted tax breaks to be doled out for a sty full of eyebrow-raising purposes over the next decade.
"This is how Washington works," said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington research group. "A big pot of pork is their recipe for final passage."
The special provisions include tax breaks for:
* Manufacturers of kids' wooden arrows - $6 million.
* Puerto Rican and Virgin Is- lands rum producers - $192 million.
* Wool research.
* Auto-racing tracks - $128 million.
* Corporations operating in American Samoa - $33 million.
* Small- to medium-budget film and television productions - $10 million.
Another measure inserted into the bill appears to be a bald-faced bid aimed at winning the support of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who voted against the original version when it went down in flames in the House on Monday.
That provision - a $223 million package of tax benefits for fishermen and others whose livelihoods suffered as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill - has been the subject of fervent lobbying by Alaska's congressional delegation.
Some of the pork-barrel measures buried in the financial rescue package had been contained in a bill that previously passed the Senate, but died in the House.
The Congressional Budget Office said the package of breaks - including obvious pork and some more defensible tax-relief measures - will add about $112 billion to budget deficits over the next five years because the bill doesn't contain enough offsetting revenue hikes to keep the budget balanced.