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NASCAR wealthfare

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Whether they root for their favorite drivers or don't care who wins, taxpayers will be reminded every time NASCAR races over the next five years of an estimated $150 million in financial pain they'll suffer because Congress buried tax breaks for track owners in its “fiscal cliff” deal.

These giveaways are just as outrageous as public subsidies for stadiums and arenas. By extending tax breaks that allow owners to accelerate racetracks' depreciation, Congress shifted the financial burden of maintenance and improvements to taxpayers, the Trib reported Sunday.

Track owners hosting a billion-dollar sport — with corporate sponsorships up this year and a lucrative new TV deal with Fox Sports — hardly need such help. And even if they did, it would not be the taxpayers' job to provide it.

But Congress proved to be an easy touch for this crowd. Over the last two years, NASCAR spent $240,000 and track owner International Speedway Corp. — majority owned by the family of NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France — spent $300,000 lobbying for this dive into the public swag.

Aiding and abetting this latest episode of corporate wealthfare was a bipartisan Congress whose members had accepted campaign contributions from NASCAR executives and employees. Who says Democrats and Republicans can't work together.

Once again, they placed self-interest above the public interest. And they really wonder why the public thinks so little of them?

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