A Flock of Fine-Tuned Favors

Squabbles over amendments delay the tax bill

Even by Senate standards, the provision was a triumph of devious verbosity. It granted a special tax break on corporate debts "if such indebtedness was originally incurred before May 30, 1985, by a domestic corporation which was incorporated on March 18, 1983, in Delaware, and which indebtedness was subsequently transferred to a domestic affiliate which was incorporated on October 17, 1890, and whose principal place of business is in California . . ." and so on and on through 131 words. The purposes of this lush verbiage: 1) to make certain that the favor would go to just one company, Unocal,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!