"I think there’s a little bit of posturing going on," Houser said of outrage from some lawmakers who say they had little or knowledge of the tax breaks before voting. "It’s been widely known that these tax extenders were expiring and they needed to be dealt with."
The goodies were put into the fiscal cliff bill as part of a last-minute deal cut by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Finger-pointing ensued this week over who wanted them more but the fact is, special interest carveouts get bipartisan love.
Obama had been vocal about wind energy credits, which will benefit an array of companies, including Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy.
NASCAR tracks have been getting a break for decades. The deal allows them to depreciate property over seven years vs. the normal 15 or more years. In 2004, the IRS began challenging the treatment and NASCAR and its industry partners stepped up lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Today top allies include Nelson and Buchanan, both of whom collected thousands in political contributions from employees for NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. In July 2011, Lesa France Kennedy and Brian France, the siblings that controls ISC and NASCAR, hosted a fundraiser for Buchanan at Daytona International Speedway. Guests were asked to donate up to $25,000 to Buchanan’s political committee.
A few months later, Buchanan, a member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee, introduced the Motorsports Fairness and Permanency Act. It attracted two-dozen co-sponsors, a number of them Florida lawmakers.
Nelson supports a Senate version introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, home to a track owned by International Speedway Corp.
"Tax reform is essential to reducing the debt," Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said. "But that doesn’t mean every so-called tax break is bad. An argument can be made that some provisions create jobs and boost the economy and don’t exist merely to bolster someone’s bottom line."
Buchanan, who has consistently railed against the growing federal deficit, did not respond to an interview request. When he drew scrutiny for the connection between the political contributions and his NASCAR bill in 2011, he simply told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that jobs were his "No. 1 priority."