Our Piece of Pork

The “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008″ (aka the bailout plan) is loaded with provisions intended to attract the votes of lawmakers that were previously in the “no” column. Among them is the Bike Commuter Act, a piece of legislation long-supported by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (District 3). It has been suggested that Rep. Blumenauer is being specifically targeted with the inclusion of this provision.

Sec. 211, the “Transportation Fringe Benefit to Bicycle Commuters”, would provide a $20 per month reimbursement to “qualified” bike commuters. A qualified commuter is someone who:

“(I) regularly uses the bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment, and

“(II) does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B),
23 or (C) of paragraph (1).”.

As of right now, it doesn’t appear the Bike Commuter Act provision will change Blumenauer’s mind. This is his statement from yesterday afternoon:

I continue to think that we need more protections for taxpayer and bankruptcy fairness which will do more to stop the free fall than anything else.

Obviously, this is a dynamic economic situation and many things are in play. I am listening carefully and closely monitoring the situation.

Knowing what I know now in terms of our economic situation and with this bill in its current form, absent some dramatic change in circumstances, I have no plans to support the bailout legislation.

The House votes on the bill today.

View the full text of the bill here (see page 205-207) →

9 Responses to “Our Piece of Pork”

  • brad says:

    I’m not sure I understand how someone could prove they’re a “qualified bike commuter” if they were audited, and how fraud could be avoided. In Canada we have a tax refund for people who take public transportation but they have to provide their expired Metro passes and other receipts. Since there’s no analogous way to prove that you ride your bike to work regularly, what’s to stop everyone who owns a bike from claiming that they’re a bike commuter?

  • Alan says:

    It’s an employer reimbursement, so I suppose it’s a matter of whether a person is willing to risk losing their job by lying to their employer – seems unlikely for $20 per month.

  • Perry says:

    I picked up on this too when an economist on PBS, asked about the pork in the package, singled this out as the most blatant example. I guess that cycling commuters are even more scorned by Americans than wooden arrow head makers and rum producers. ;-)

  • Jamie says:

    I’ve not looked it up, but I think:

    ““(II) does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B),
    23 or (C) of paragraph (1).”.”

    Covers people not getting parking or public transport passes paid for.

  • LareyKerling says:

    While I’m happy such a benefit is in the offing, I don’t think many companies will be offering the benny unless they are forced to. Also, I would rather it had been passed all on it’s own, and not slipped into a giant bill like so many other little bits of ‘gimme gimme gimme some!”.

  • Chris from DE says:

    For Brad:

    Employer: “Do you ride your bike to work at least 3 times a week?”

    Rider: “Yes, sir.”

    Employer: “May I see proof, please?”

    Rider: (turns around and stands on tip-toes to show off rockin’ calf muscles).

  • brad says:

    Nice one Chris. I was thinking saving all your PowerBar wrappers might suffice as well ;-)

  • andy parmentier says:

    i wanted to shoot a shotgun reply to this side-of-a-barn pork issue, being a bit of a lobbyist myself. since i’m going so strong on a serendipitous “swiss-neutrality” themed hot streak, i submit to my esteemed colleagues that roger federer be the new appointment to the federer government. (he’s swiss)
    is there something to be said about a barnside looking like “swiss cheese” after i got done with it? that’s lower fat than bacon.

  • beth says:

    As one of Earl’s constituents, I totally support his “no” vote on the bill, both times (!). That said, if there’s actually enough money to get this bike tax credit off the ground I’ll be thrilled. But I fear that in our current economic climate it’ll be just another unfunded mandate. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep counting the savings as I enter my 19th year of carlessness.


    Happy riding!

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