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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson and Vern Buchanan's support for NASCAR tax break shows rough road ahead for tax reform



WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said his vote was a vote for the average guy. So did Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan of Sarasota.

"With a $16.3 trillion national debt and 7.7 percent unemployment, the last thing we need is a massive tax increase on hard-working Americans," Buchanan said following last week's tumultuous conclusion of the fiscal cliff standoff.

But neither Florida lawmaker mentioned the benefits delivered to another constituent they look out for in Washington: Daytona Beach-based NASCAR.

Despite alarm over the country's financial health, the fiscal cliff deal was packed — at the last minute — with billions of dollars in special interest tax incentives for rum makers, a tuna fish company, algae producers, Hollywood studios, racetracks and more.

The deals, still drawing scrutiny a week after being signed into law by President Barack Obama, provide a powerful lesson in the way Washington works. Special interests curry favor with lawmakers through political donations and employ teams of lobbyists to push for the breaks, which are sprinkled into sweeping legislation to attract votes. (story here)

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 6:52pm]


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