While voting to give business a $500 billion tax break over the next 10 years, members of the House Ways and Means Committee received just over $280,000 from corporate and trade association political action committees, according to a group affiliated with Ralph Nader.
The organization, Congress Watch, based the findings on reports filed at the Federal Election Commission, noting that the contributions were made nearly a year and a half before the next election and that most of the recipients are considered to have "safe" seats.
"Campaign contributions may be expected in an election year. But one would not expect substantial contributions in the first half of the first year following an election--particularly if the recipient holds a safe seat--and most Ways and Means Committee members do hold safe seats. Only five got less than 60 percent of the vote in the 1980 general election, and only three got less than 70 percent in the primary," Congress Watch said.
Of the 35 members on the tax writing panel, 24 received corporate and trade association contributions during the first six months of 1981, Congress Watch found. A total of $226,051 went to 18 Democrats and $54,440 to six Republicans.
All the Democrats on the panel except Rep. Kent Hance (D-Tex.) supported a business tax cut that takes the form of "phased-in expensing" of capital investments. The Democratic version ultimately was defeated by the Reagan administration's accelerated cost-recovery system known as 10-5-3, although both provided nearly equal benefits over the decade. Hance cosponsored the GOP bill.