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The Lobbyists Behind Tax Breaks

POSTED: 01:39 PM ET, 05/20/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Sen. Charles Grassley, a ranking member of the Senate's Finance Committee and a Republican from Iowa, is demanding more transparency in the process that would make public the names of lobbyists and firms that advocate tariff suspensions, Inside U.S. Trade reports.

The push for more transparency follows a September 2006 Post investigation into such tariff suspensions, which allow individual companies to escape paying import taxes on a range of products brought into the United States.

The Post's Joe Stephens found that the number of suspensions was skyrocketing and that those narrow measures primarily benefited large, foreign-based corporations. Companies evaded a $500,000 cap on tariff savings by persuading lawmakers to file multiple bills with tax breaks aimed at the companies' imports.

As a result, some small domestic companies were hurt by proposals that benefited their foreign competitors.

A broad ethics overhaul of the tariff suspension system was passed by congressional leaders in January 2007.

Inside U.S. Trade quoted "informed sources" saying Grassley is additionally seeking to have the names of lobbyists or firms advocating for the bill to be included in existing disclosure forms.

By Derek Kravitz |  May 20, 2008; 1:39 PM ET Post Investigations
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