Critics sniff at tax credit for chicken manure

Lawmakers lampoon provision to aid Delmarva

August 06, 1999|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Critics of the tax-cut bill took mostly broad swipes at the measure yesterday, but one particular provision really ruffled their feathers: a tax credit for chicken manure.

"They've given new meaning to the term `chicken deluxe,' " said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat. "We object to funding tax breaks for special interests by jeopardizing Social Security and Medicare, and at the top of the list are chicken manure producers. Who do you think pays for that?"

Waving before his colleagues a picture of a freshly cleaned chicken, Doggett said it had been "plucked clean. That's exactly what's going to happen to Social Security and Medicare."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, added that while the Republicans were granting "a tax break for chicken manure, they're leaving chicken feed for the rest of us."

The four-year, $50 million credit is intended to encourage the development of power plants in the Delmarva Peninsula and elsewhere in the country that can convert poultry waste into electricity.

Sponsored in the Senate by William V. Roth Jr., a Delaware Republican, and Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, both Maryland Democrats, and in the House by Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican from the Eastern Shore, the proposal is intended to:

Provide an environmentally safe and potentially profitable use for waste that scientists believe is a major source of pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.

Generate a clean source of fuel that can help meet electrical shortages in areas occasionally subject to rolling brownouts.

The proposal survived the onslaught and might become law in some other form if President Clinton vetoes the tax bill, as he says he will.

Doggett said after the debate that of the $100 billion in special-interest tax breaks in the bill, the chicken-manure credit was the easiest to understand.

"It may not be the worst provision in the bill," he said. "But it is the one that had the best chance of catching the public's attention."

Pub Date: 8/06/99

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