As Americans were celebrating the end of the old year and the beginning of 2013, the Republican-majority House of Representatives and the Democrat-controlled Senate were busy in the last remaining hours of 2012 making sure that certain constituencies were being well cared for by the so-called 'fiscal cliff' legislation they passed.
On the first day of 2013, before dawn, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed to pass a bill to avert the fiscal cliff - a previously agreed compromise that would have set into place mandatory tax increases and budget cuts. The House approved it later that night.
The bill ensures that federal income tax rates will rise for those earning over $400,000 per year, despite calls by Democrats for tax hikes for those making over $250,000. Republicans had urged that no tax hikes be included in the bill. Federal spending cuts will be delayed for 2 months to give the two chambers more time to address them.
The bill is 157 pages long, prompting some to ask what provisions are included that are actually necessary. An examination of the bill revealed some interesting sections:
1. There is aid for America's asparagus farmers. Did you know that they needed it?
2. There is help for the television and motion picture industry, which was so helpful to President Obama's re-election campaign.
3. There is help for rum producers on America's Caribbean colony, Puerto Rico. Who knew Captain Morgan needed a subsidy?
4. There is help for the producers and purchasers of 2- and 3-wheel electric vehicles. That should go over well among Segway geeks and golfers in pink pants among the country club set.
5. There is also help for something having to do with diesel fuel.
6. There is help for the car-racing world. Who would have known that NASCAR and Richard Petty needed a boost? Dale Earnhardt Jr. must be smiling down on America from heaven right now.
French archaeologists were shocked to discover the body of a woman who died in the 1600s in a great state of preservation, including all of her clothes.