Sept. 23, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Beach Bound?

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) sure seemed revved up for spring break, judging from the dozen or so bills he introduced before the Senate adjourned last week. It looked like he was working to waive taxes on various toys he might need while at whatever sunny destination he was heading to.

Take S.2574, a bill to suspend the duty on “certain golf club driver heads.” Or S.2575, a bill to suspend the duty on “certain golf club fairway heads.”

And not just any fairway head. Kerry’s next bill, S.2576, would suspend the duty on “certain golf club driver heads of titanium.” And the next, S.2577, would suspend the duty on “certain golf club driver heads with plasma welded face plate.” Those really are the best for driving into wind, you know.

Hmmm, or maybe that’s not the right club. Kerry’s S.2578 bill would suspend the duty on “certain golf club driver heads with rhombus shaped center face.” Ah yes, that’s the right club.

And, heck, if golf doesn’t go so well there’s always basketball, he must have thought. Bills S.2579 and S.2580 would suspend the duty on “certain” leather and rubber basketballs.

Playing hoops doesn’t float your boat? Try beach volleyball! His S.2581 bill would suspend the duty on — you guessed it — “certain volleyballs.”

We were surprised that there wasn’t a bill to waive the duty on windsurf sails. We called Kerry’s office to see what was up with his bills, and whether the Senator was bound for an exotic locale where he might enjoy the fruits of his duty-free labors. Of course not, spokesman David Wade said.

It turns out that Massachusetts is home to Spalding, which makes basketballs, footballs, volleyballs and soccer balls. And the Acushnet Company — the world’s largest manufacturer of golf equipment, including brand names such as Titleist, FootJoy, Cobra and Pinnacle — employs hundreds of workers at a couple of plants in southeastern Massachusetts.

So all Kerry was doing was fighting to keep his state’s jobs from going overseas.

“It had nothing to do with the all-powerful volleyball lobby and everything to do with keeping jobs in Massachusetts,” Wade said.

Well, if Kerry does end up vacationing on a tropical island, at least he’ll have his little buddy Spalding to keep him company, like Tom Hanks’ pal Wilson.

Near-Snafu. What in the world was House Administration Chairman Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) thinking? During his panel’s markup of lobby reform legislation last week, Ehlers was all ginned up to offer an amendment that would have weakened the bill so that pension benefits would be denied to Members convicted of public corruption charges only during their period of imprisonment. Once out of jail — voilà! — their retirement pay would resume.

The GOP lobbying reform bill, unlike the Democratic alternative, would permanently deny Congressional pensions to Members convicted of bribery, treason or extortion.

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