Monday , November 29 2021
From Electric Bikes to ‘Tree Equity,’ Biden’s Social Policy Bill Funds Niche Items

From Electric Bikes to ‘Tree Equity,’ Biden’s Social Policy Bill Funds Niche Items

“The collapse of local journalism has had serious consequences for our ability to govern,” Mr. Blumenauer, a senior member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said, pointing to anti-Muslim and other offensive remarks made by a Republican truck driver who defeated New Jersey’s Senate president this month — but revealed by the news media only after his election.

“There was no opportunity for local media to provide even basic information about the candidates,” Mr. Blumenauer said. “The guy would never have been elected if he had gotten any scrutiny at all.”

Some of the measures tucked into the bill have languished for years. In 2007, Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, drafted legislation that would allow lawyers who work on a contingency basis — they will be paid only if they win — to take a tax write-off of expenses from a case as they are incurred. Currently, such expenses can be claimed only once judgment on the case has been rendered.

Since the measure was written, Mr. Specter switched parties, was defeated and then died, but his work has found its moment. The change would generate considerable savings for trial lawyers — $2.5 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan referee on tax policy.

“Lawyers working on a contingency fee basis cannot deduct their expenses until the case resolves, which can be years after the expense is incurred,” said Carly Moore Sfregola, a spokeswoman for the American Association for Justice, the trial lawyers’ lobby. “Contingency fee arrangements are the only way that regular people can afford to seek justice.”

And many of the measures have bipartisan origins. An effort to include independent music producers in an existing tax break for film, television and live theatrical productions found a champion in Tennessee’s conservative firebrand senator, Marsha Blackburn, at the behest of Nashville.

Representative Linda T. Sánchez, Democrat of California, initially drafted the Helping Independent Tracks Succeed, or HITS, Act at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but she was able to bring along Ms. Blackburn, Representative Ron Estes, Republican of Kansas, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California.

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