The wrong bunnies eat the carrots

Are you like me? Do you appreciate good tax journalism?

Don't answer that. But there's an excellent piece in today's New York Times about yet another tax boner by Congress, something called the "qualified small business stock" giveaway. It's known as "QSBS," with the emphasis on the last two letters.

This one is yet another example of a sadly familiar pattern: Congress, using the tax code to encourage good deeds, instead winds up giving money away to the ultra-wealthy, with little or no public benefit to show for it. I remember my first tax professor, Wayne Barnett, lamenting about it when I was in law school 45 years ago. Nothing's changed. 

The Trump version of it is the "opportunity zone" nonsense, which has recently built luxury condos where good food carts used to stand in downtown Portland. I've wept about that one, here. So where did this QS BS come from? They say it's old. Must have been from one of the Bush eras, maybe even Reagan, right?

Wrong. It was part of the Clinton budget reconciliation law, which passed in August of '93. It came out of the House, where taxes were being run by Dan Rostenkowski, who went on to receive his own federal prisoner ID number. 

Looking back on the roll calls from '93, all four Oregon Democrats in the House voted for it: Wyden, DeFazio, Furse, and Kopetski. Bob Smith voted no in the House, and Oregon's two Republican senators, Hatfield and Packwood, both voted no. It was a sharply divided Congress at that point. The Newt era was on.

Anyway, the Times piece spells out how badly the thing was drafted, and points out that the flaws have not exactly been a secret. But bad tax laws die hard. The rich get richer. Same as it ever was.


  1. Reading articles like that is when I end up changing my mind and going “Fine, abolish student loan debt.” Although, I saw a what I think is an even better idea recently - just abolish all the accrued student loan interest and set future interest to 0%. It would still be a great boon to student loan debtors.

  2. Another good argument to trash the whole tax system and start over. Maybe even decide that the government has too much money when they can have programs to force us out of cars and into condo bunkers, waste Trillions on toy trains and many trillions on changing the climate (while China & Russia ignore it.)


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