A Little Help for Some Friends

When big contributors need a tax break, Congress can oblige

When Congress took up its deficit-reduction package last week, few of the legislators knew precisely what they were voting for. Buried in the 1,000 or more pages were dozens of mysterious provisions inserted by key lawmakers during closed-door committee sessions. Known euphemistically as "rifle shots," they are lucrative tax breaks for legislators' home-state industries and campaign contributors. They will cost the Treasury untold millions in lost revenue. In most cases, the provisions are so artfully worded that not even tax experts or congressional aides can determine for certain which companies or industries will benefit from them. Pending eventual publication of all...

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