It doesn't really work, since most people will buy homes whether they receive a break or not. Countries like Australia and Canada have similar ownership rates to ours without offering the deduction. But at least congressmen back in 1913 occasionally tried to do something beneficial for the country. Today's Washington is more interested in exploiting such beneficence. Take the yacht deduction.

The luxury sailing industry was able to buy its way into the mortgage break when Congress officially declared boats to be homes. But not just any boats. The rules require that they have sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and a toilet, leaving just 3 percent of U.S. boat owners to qualify.

"The mortgage deduction was never targeted for that," says Congressman Tim Walz (D-Minnesota). "It was meant to make homeownership more affordable for the middle class."

So Walz wrote the Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act, hoping to bar the über-wealthy from sponging off the mortgage deduction. Once again, Congressman Dave Camp refuses to let it come up for a vote.

That leaves everyday taxpayers to subsidize toys like Microsoft CEO Paul Allen's $200 million yacht, which comes equipped with an indoor pool, basketball court, and its own submarine.

"It's a loophole in the tax code that benefits a few people at the very top," says Walz, a sergeant major in the National Guard and former teacher. "I certainly feel if they want to grab their luxury liners, I'm glad they do. And I'm glad we have people making them. I'm just not certain we subsidize that."


5. Big Oil's Cadillac welfare.

Last month, Mitt Romney traveled to Iowa, where wind energy has become an economic force, responsible for 7,000 jobs and 20 percent of the state's electricity. He announced that, as president, he would kill the $3.3 billion in tax incentives that now go to this nas­cent form of electricity. In Romney's eyes, the industry has had more than enough time to stand on its own two feet.

"He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits," Romney spokesman Shawn McCoy told the Des Moines Register.

It's a laughable position. After all, Romney has announced no similar crackdown on a much older and larger welfare queen: Big Oil.

The five largest U.S. oil companies collect a spectacular $20 billion a year in tax breaks. And they'd prefer that wind farms not compete for that lucrative welfare dollar. During this year's presidential race, the industry has paid Romney $3.4 million via campaign contributions to ensure that wind goes away.

Technically, the oil giveaway is supposed to defray the cost of searching for new sources. But even George W. Bush realized the industry didn't need subsidies back in 2005, when the price of a barrel was at $55. "We don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore," he said at the time. "There are plenty of incentives."

These days, the price of a barrel routinely hovers around $100. But the five biggest companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon­Mobil, and Shell — still get their breaks, despite collective record profits of $137 billion last year.

"The oil industry is doing fine," says Johnson, the University of Texas tax expert. "They don't need or deserve a dime of subsidy. It's all money thrown away to make shareholders richer. The private market will provide any subsidies by increasing the price. It's time to get the government out of the business of special subsidies. It's like Cadillac welfare."


4. A break for shipping your job to China.

In April, 750 workers at a Kimberly-Clark paper mill in Everett, Washington, lost their jobs when the company shipped those jobs to lower-cost facilities overseas.

Steelworkers in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, suffered the same fate. Their mill's owner, Joerns Heathcare, took away 150 jobs last month by moving operations to Mexico.

Another 170 people making auto sensors at a Sensata Technologies plant in Freeport, Illinois, will be out of work by year's end. Their jobs are being carted off to China.

In each case, American taxpayers will subsidize the evacuation.

It's not just cheap labor that pushes work overseas. The U.S. tax code allows companies to expense every last cost of sending your job abroad.

At a time of 8 percent unemployment, one would think Congress would rush to kill a loophole that actually encourages economic misery. One would be wrong.

This summer, Senate Democrats introduced the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would kill the loophole and offer a tax credit to companies that bring work back to America. The credit would cover 20 percent of their costs from bringing those jobs back.

Republicans filibustered the bill to death. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went so far as to call the measure "a joke," ensuring another nervous Christmas for the country's blue-collar workers.


3. The behaving-like-an-asshole deduction.

In 1989, third mate Gregory Cousins was negotiating the 986-foot Exxon Valdez through Bligh's Reef in Alaska while Capt. Joe Hazelwood slept off a bender below deck.

The vessel crashed, spilling upward of 25 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The disaster could have been avoided if the ship's collision avoidance radar was working. It had broken a year before, but Exxon chose not to fix it due to the cost of repair and operation.

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3 comments
Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Funny how you failed to mention People like Pelosi and Obama and companies like Solyndra and Tesla.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

these major corporations pay lobbyists more than what they pay in taxes These corporations, these corporations that make billions of dollars pay more to lobbyists than what they pay in taxes. And maybe one of the reasons mitt has that problem is because, when did our ill-fortunes start? Romney himself has greatly benefited from the tax code.  Romney greatly benefited from the current tax rate for capital gains, which is 15 percent compared to the 35 percent tax rate for wage-based income. If Romney had made his $21.6 million in wages in 2010 he would have been forced to pay $7.56 million dollars. Because his income came from capital gains, Romney instead only paid $3 million in taxes

beelzebozo
beelzebozo

 @Anthonyvop1 I'm not defending Obama, but the Solyndra fiasco started at the end of G. W. Bush's presidential term.  Look it up.

 
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