It’s almost as if the financial bail-out bill had passed the House on Monday, instead of collapsing 205-228. Almost.
Tonight — sometime after 7:30, we hear around 9 p.m. — the Senate is slated to take up a 451-page bill that extends a couple dozen business tax breaks, helps many individual taxpayers avoid the alternative minimum tax next year, increases deposit insurance from the FDIC to $250,000 per depositor per bank (from $100,000), and includes at least some modifications to the fair-value accounting rule that financial companies love to hate. (See the run-down in this Businessweek.com article: The Bailout: Senate Is Next.)
Oh yeah — it also gives Treasury wide flexibility to invest up to $700 billion in the dubious mortgage-related assets that have been weighing down bank balance sheets. For all the talk of a revitalized bill, the core plan looks pretty much like the one that failed on Monday — congressional oversight, executive-comp restrictions and government equity stakes from companies that participate, an optional insurance program that conservative Republicans like but Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson doesn’t. For that matter, it’s not wildly different from the proposal that started collapsing a week ago today, after John McCain announced he would come to D.C. and wound up in a meeting that went nowhere acrimoniously with President Bush and Barack Obama on Thursday. Both candidates, along with vice presidential contender Joe Biden, announced they would return for the vote.
Meantime, a treasure-hunt of sorts is going on with the massive bill, which began life less than two weeks ago as a three-page document from Treasury. Among the oddities being turned up:
- SEC. 503. EXEMPTION FROM EXCISE TAX FOR CERTAIN WOODEN ARROWS DESIGNED FOR USE BY CHILDREN. (Hat-tip to Dealbreaker for calling this one out.)
- SEC. 504. INCOME AVERAGING FOR AMOUNTS RECEIVED IN CONNECTION WITH THE EXXON VALDEZ LITIGATION.
Update: We’re told these, and other oddities (including Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds.) were in the tax-extender bill passed in the Senate by big majority last week, so it’s essentially an artifact of folding the existing language into the financial-rescue legislation.