Back-door budget While grassroots delegations from Texas Nand elsewhere have clamored in vain on the front steps of the Capitol for federal aid in making ends meet, two congressional tax committees have been holding the budgetary back door wide open to a parade of special pleaders for business and trade associations. That’s the uninspiring civics lesson that emerges , from a recently published Common Cause study of the obscure sessions of the Senate finance and House ways and means committees at which tax credits, tax deductions, special tax rates, and the like get inserted in the Internal Revenue Code. The report, Gimme Shelters, calls these measures “tax expenditures””the functional equivalent of direct spending programs”because each one represents a legislative judgment that the revenue lost should not be available for other federal programs. FAIRMONT FOODS COMPANY Some of Texas’ biggest Of the thousand largest industrial corporations in the United States, 59 now call the Lone Star State home, according to Fortune magazine’s latest rank ings. That’s three more than Texas had in the top thousand last yearindeed Fortune reports that Texas and Southern California have gained the most big-firm headquarters during the ’70s. Texas firms on the current list range from Houstonbased Shell Oil, which ranks 14th nationally, to Falcon Seaboard, the Houston energy conglomerate ranked number 991. However, Fortune excludes banks, insurance companies, retail firms, utilities, and transportation companies from its list, so Halliburton, Braniff, Southland, Coastal States Gas, First International Bancshares, Zale and other Texas giants are left off, even though their level of sales otherwise would rate a spot. Nonetheless, for what it’s worth, here are Texas’ Top 20 industrials as determined by Fortune: Company 1977 Sales Nat’l Rank $10,112,000,000 14 7,440,300,000 19 4,703,296,000 43 2,538,800,000 97 2,046,456,000 124 Associated Milk Producers, Inc. 1,645,676,000 150 1,246,902,000 199 1,175,735,000 214 1,076,369,000 226 . 947,953,000 252 Commonwealth Oil Refining 930,542,000 257 787,420,000 288 748,339,000 294 678,829,000 307 545,166,000 372 533,176,000 374 Hunt International Resources \(formerly 515,554,000 382 502,442,000 389 450,623,000 425 434,579,000 436 12 JUNE 23, 1978 The resulting bill for tax subsidies in fiscal 1979 will be about $136 billion, says Common Cause, and even Senator Long concedes that the “expenditure” label fits. “I’ve always known,” says Long, “that what we’re doing was giving government money away.” There’s not necessarily anything wrong with making such decisions there aren’t too many foes of the tax-free status accorded to veterans’ pensions, for instance. But what bothers the folks at Common Cause is the way the decisions are made. At tax committee hearings, industry lobbyists show up in force to protect tax breaks they’ve already won and make their pitch for new ones. They’re often successful at this committee level, and it’s the only one that really counts, because tax expenditures, unlike direct federal outlays, don’t have to be approved by a separate appropriations panel. Nor do they undergo careful scrutiny by the Congress as a whole, thanks to maneuvering by committee chiefs like Senate finance chairman Russell Long, who has stymied efforts to bring tax breaks within the constraints of the congressional budget process. . E.H. omenwNrelen.r
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