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Ray Allegrezza

We're missing the Gravy Train

January 14, 2013

While most furniture companies held their breath early in January waiting to see if we would be derailed by the runaway train dubbed the fiscal cliff, other industries apparently had already booked seats on the Gravy Train Express.
To me, the Gravy Train has to be powered by pork, because stuffed inside the 150-page tax bill are scores of links (obviously made of pork) that exist to benefit many of Washington's favored industry sectors.
Speaking of railroads, how about the more than $330 million for railroads that allow the operators of regional railroads to grab a tax credit of up to 50% of the cost to maintain railroad tracks?
The fiscal cliff bill also had some pork for motorsport race track owners that will let them deduct billions for their tracks, concession stands and bleachers.
Let's not forget the farmers. For openers, growers of asparagus got a tax break valued at $15 million a year to soothe the sting of competition from asparagus grown and imported from Peru.
That's enough to make you drink. Which brings to mind the more than $220 million granted to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands via returned excise taxes collected by Uncle Sam on rum made there.
Hollywood also got a handout with a $430 million break to coax filmmakers to make movies in the U.S. and in particular, in depressed areas of the country.
Makers of electric motorcycles were juiced to learn that they are getting $4 million in the form of an expanded energy tax credit already on the books.
And where are we in all of this? Nowhere.
Maybe we need to wake up, smell the gravy and get busy creating some new furniture that plugs in, runs on a track, is made of recycled asparagus and tastes like rum. Then we make a movie about it in a depressed part of the country.
Hey, why not? As a guy who loves his food, I can tell you that nothing goes better with pork than gravy.