More Welfare for the Housing Sector

It wasn't enough to bailout the financial conglomerates with $12 trillion and then provide a first-time homebuyer tax credit that helps them and homebuilders. No, that wasn't enough. Homebuilders needed something more direct and definite. How about huge corporate tax refunds? That's the ticket.

That's right - huge tax refunds to another industry that benefited tremendously from the cheap money that was flowing like water. Now they are helped on the down side And what about us - fu*k the little guy - foreclosures and unemployment keep increasing.

NYT has the story.

ON Nov. 6, President Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 into law, extending unemployment benefits by 20 weeks and renewing the first-time homebuyer tax credit until next April.

But tucked inside the law was another prize: a tax break that lets big companies offset losses incurred in 2008 and 2009 against profits booked as far back as 2004. The tax cuts will generate corporate refunds or relief worth about $33 billion, according to an administration estimate.

Before the bill became law, the so-called look-back on losses was limited to small businesses and could be used to counterbalance just two years of profits. Now the profit offset goes back five years, and the law allows big companies to take advantage of it, too.

(emphasis added)

Amazing. It is impossible to get any legislation passed without some giveaway to corporate benefactors. The article makes two incredibly frustrating points:

1) These homebuilders, particularly bigger ones, are sitting on boat loads of cash right now and probably are not in desperate need for the cash infusion from government; and

2) There is no guarantee that these homebuilders, who stand to benefit tremendously from this tax windfall, will use the government welfare to generate jobs.

Amazing. What is not amazing is how the homebuilders got this government welfare:

Securing this tax break was a top priority for home builders, lobbying records show. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that through Oct. 26 of this year, home builders paid $6 million to their lobbyists. Last year, the industry spent $8.2 million lobbying.

Much of this year’s lobbying expenditures were focused on arguing for the tax loss carry-forward, documents show.

What ever happened to 'free markets' that these corporation are so fond of? Oh, that's right when it comes to padding their balance sheets there is no such thing as 'free markets' but when it comes to protecting people from corporations destructive behavior or helping people get access to affordable health insurance or helping people get a living wage or freely organize- oh, no - we need 'free markets'.

There is a cancer that is growing at an alarming rate and government can either help stop the spread of this cancer or be a accelerant. Right now, government is the accelerant for this cancer. For our sake, this has to change very soon.

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I can't find this yet

but the loss carry forward, or backward, doesn't this apply to all business, i.e. GS, GE, GM?

Or did they limit it to just these home builders?

I like how the New York Times is finally showing disgust passed by out of Congress these days that isn't reviewed and approved by corporate lobbyists.

Think a constituent could walk in with even a perfect piece of written legislation and get anything beyond lip service? No way. An Economist? Nope. But oh yeah...

Frankly Congress has outsourced their legislation writing to lobbyists. (they are also told how to vote too).

I confess I haven't look at actually law

but according to article the original intent was for small businesses then, with what was probably heavy lobbying, was opened to every business but analysis shows that home builders will benefit tremendously from tax break and they lobbied hard for it. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.

I went looking

and do not even have the bill title on what was passed.

It is usually small business can do a loss carry forward and I believe that was extended for up to 5 yrs or something previously but I'm not exactly certain what they did this time to enable this.

Where I browse legislation is

Now this can be a huge headache, often they are amending some other bill, so you have to dig out that bill be modified, find the clauses and then look at both and try to dissect what is changed.

While this is really grueling, esp. for those of us w/o law/public policy/legislative backgrounds, frankly when you get into these lobbyist agenda bills, they have this stuff down to an art.

So, you're looking at two huge documents, where something says "amend section IV, a(part j)" and add "not".

You have to figure out what that really does!

But that's the art of loophole, often loopholes are not even discovered until way after a bill is passed.

Even worse, they have "conferees" who "rectify" the "differences between House and Senate versions of the bill"
and literally they have changed entire amendments.

ex. they ripped out Bernie Sander's amendments even though it passed both houses by wide margins.

and then we have "bill manager amendments", which are sometimes a complete rewrite of the bill, they present these at the last minute, not a single person has read it and it's passed by voice vote.

It's no wonder nothing gets passed that isn't written by corporate lobbyists under these circumstances...

but there ya have it. So, in this case, we need the bill title so we can dig out the legislative text. I'm assuming NYT verified but they don't say if it's to all big business or not in the article. is a skill unto itself. You also have to get a permanent link. Most things showing up in the search are temporary and expire in a matter of 10 minutes. What fun, yeah, this is public discourse.

I'll take a crack at it later. but you are right

the breaks usually happen by putting language in "amending Title X, Sect. 3 to say _______" and it's usually at the end of the legislation. - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.