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Boats, Jets Arm for Tax Fight

Last week, Bunce and R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, wrote a letter asking Obama to tone down his rhetoric, only to hear their industry singled out again Saturday in the president's weekly national address.

Obama has urged Congress to eliminate a tax provision that allows businesses to write off the costs of their corporate jets over five years, instead of over seven years, like commercial and cargo planes. This tax benefit costs the Treasury about $3 billion every decade.

Under a similar provision that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) secured in the 2008 farm bill, all racehorses currently depreciate over three years as opposed to seven.

The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a resolution filed last week by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that says taxpayers earning more than
$1 million each year should "make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort." The nonbinding Sense of the Senate measure is toothless, but it would force Senators to go on the record supporting or opposing tax increases on the wealthy, at least in theory. Still, the resolution does not mention any of the various tax breaks Reid's Conference has been highlighting, and it is not clear how or if those will ever come up for a vote.

Beyond industry concerns, several lawmakers might have personal interests in avoiding the votes.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) has a loan worth $50,001 to $100,000 on a boat, and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) owes $1 million to $5 million for the purchase of a Broward Yacht, according to financial disclosure forms made public last month. Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) owns 13 racehorses, his form showed.

None of the Members' offices returned Roll Call's requests for comment by press time.

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