Great news! I was reading through some
bailout, uh, rescue commentary this morning, and found this political advice from Joel Stein at the L.A. Times:
If I were in Congress, I’d hold out. Every representative who voted no on the bailout got something totally sweet in the bill that passed the Senate. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) changed his mind once he got the health insurance for mental illness he’s been fighting for. The Senate is trying to bribe Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) with tax breaks for Arizona solar companies. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who rides a bicycle, is supposed to be tempted by a tax deduction for bike commuters….
There’s more, but I stopped reading right there because that was such exciting news. The Senate version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act has tax deduction for bike commuters? Sweeeet! I’ve been biking to work ever since moving to Lubbock over two months ago.
It is kind of hard to find the provision, since it is embedded in Title III, Section 303, which is described as “Extension of Exclusion of Income From Discharge of Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness.” Scan down to Division B, Title II, SEC. 211: “TRANSPORTATION FRINGE BENEFIT TO BICYCLE COMMUTERS.” I don’t quite see the connection between bicycle commuting and the discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness, but no matter. This is a bigger deal than even Title III, Section 303, Division C, SEC. 503: “EXEMPTION FROM EXCISE TAX FOR CERTAIN WOODEN ARROWS DESIGNED FOR USE BY CHILDREN.”
And, when you think about it, it is a provision that will pay off whether the
bailout of Wall Street rescue plan works or not. If we do, in fact, manage not to tumble into the depths of depression, each bike commuter will gain a small tax break. And if, despite spending $700 billion $820 billion $??? billion (or maybe because we spent that much), the economy enters into a tailspin, you can sell your car to pay bills and bike to work (assuming you have a job) and get to exclude certain expenses from your taxable income (should you have any) up to $20/month.
You really must applaud the Senate. Even while the President, the Treasury Secretary, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and numerous politically-connection wheelers and dealers are screaming that they must pass this emergency bill now, a few brave, kind Senators stop to think of the “little guy” – the lowly college teacher who bikes to work – the kid who wants to buy wooden arrows not made of laminate or other “artificial means of enhancing the spine of such shaft”, but can’t afford said arrows because of an excise tax.
So here’s to you, members of the Senate, who had the courage to say “I’ll refuse to support any emergency bill to keep the economy afloat, unless bike commuters also get to exclude up to $20/month in expenses from their income tax in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2008.”
[NOTE: I’ve been reminded in the past that not every reader will recognize when I am being sarcastic in a blog post. In case you have any doubt, let me assure you that I am indeed being sarcastic in many of my comments above.]