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Bush and Paulson continue their "Scorched America" policy on the way out the door....

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Postman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-10-08 05:20 AM
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Bush and Paulson continue their "Scorched America" policy on the way out the door....
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...

The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

The change to Section 382 of the tax code -- a provision that limited a kind of tax shelter arising in corporate mergers -- came after a two-decade effort by conservative economists and Republican administration officials to eliminate or overhaul the law, which is so little-known that even influential tax experts sometimes draw a blank at its mention. Until the financial meltdown, its opponents thought it would be nearly impossible to revamp the section because this would look like a corporate giveaway, according to lobbyists.

Section 382 of the tax code was created by Congress in 1986 to end what it considered an abuse of the tax system: companies sheltering their profits from taxation by acquiring shell companies whose only real value was the losses on their books. The firms would then use the acquired company's losses to offset their gains and avoid paying taxes.

No one in the Treasury informed the tax-writing committees of Congress about this move, which could reduce revenue by tens of billions of dollars. Legislators learned about the notice only days later.

In an off-the-record conference call on Oct. 7, nearly a dozen Capitol Hill staffers demanded answers from Solomon for about an hour. Several of the participants left the call even more convinced that the administration had overstepped its authority, according to people familiar with the conversation.

"We're all nervous about saying that this was illegal because of our fears about the marketplace," said one congressional aide, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Lawmakers are considering legislation to undo the change. According to tax attorneys, no one would have legal standing to file a lawsuit challenging the Treasury notice, so only Congress or Treasury could reverse it. Such action could undo the notice going forward or make it clear that it was never legal, a move that experts say would be unlikely.

But several aides said they were still torn between their belief that the change is illegal and fear of further destabilizing the economy.

"None of us wants to be blamed for ruining these mergers and creating a new Great Depression," one said.

Some legal experts said these under-the-radar objections mirror the objections to the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq.

"It's just like after September 11. Back then no one wanted to be seen as not patriotic, and now no one wants to be seen as not doing all they can to save the financial system," said Lee A. Sheppard, a tax attorney who is a contributing editor at the trade publication Tax Analysts. "We're left now with congressional Democrats that have spines like overcooked spaghetti. So who is going to stop the Treasury secretary from doing whatever he wants?"




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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-10-08 05:23 AM
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1. k&r for the "money folks" on the board. . . . . n/t
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ixion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-10-08 06:04 AM
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2. ah, the "money folks"... I remember them tearing into me for not supporting the bailout
telling me how ignorant I was, calling me a troll, and on and on.

Now we discover their precious "bailout" was what I said it was: a robbery.

They should be so proud. :eyes: :puke:
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