Critics are slamming the unbalanced distribution of the nation’s resources in a draft of the new COVID-19 financial relief package after The Washington Post reported it includes a tax break for the “three-martini” business lunch.
Regular workers, meanwhile, will get $600 in stimulus cash from the government, which could be the equivalent of a bill for a single one of those corporate executive lunches.
The tax deductions for the meals, expected to cost the U.S. Treasury billions in tax revenue, was pushed by the White House and Republicans, and denounced by congressional Democrats, according to the Post. It’s included in a summary of the stimulus deal circulating among congressional officials.
President Donald Trump backed the deduction as a way to revive the restaurant industry amid the pandemic. But critics have said it would do little to help restaurants and would largely benefit business executives who don’t need taxpayer help.
Democratic leaders agreed to the provision in exchange for Republicans agreeing to expand tax credits for low-income families in the package, the newspaper reported.
“Republicans are nickel-and-diming benefits for jobless workers, while at the same time pushing for tax breaks for three-martini power lunches. It’s unconscionable,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, told the Post.
Executives since the 1980s have been able to deduct 50% of often extravagant lunches from their federal taxes. The provision in the stimulus package would hike that to 100%.
It was one aspect of the deal triggering critics. Another was the $600 payout to working Americans. Critics pointed out that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross once wore a pair of custom-made slippers worth $600 to the Capitol.
Attorney Walter Shaub, former head of U.S. Office of Government Ethics, lashed the “stinking” $600 checks as “what you give Americans if you just don’t care about Americans.” He compared it to the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in farm subsidies reaped by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and his family.
Shaub also pointed out the cost of Ross’ footwear.