* Senate would end part of Obama's healthcare overhaul
* Tax breaks for motorsports complexes, mine rescue teams
* Green energy is another winner
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, Jan 1 The U.S. Senate packed an
eclectic mix of handouts and takebacks into its last-minute deal
to avoid the "fiscal cliff," including a measure to repeal part
of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare overhaul and a
string of special interest tax breaks.
At the center of the 157-page bill adopted early Tuesday are
provisions to raise taxes on the wealthiest households and to
make permanent Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class. The bill
now goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
But senators also extended higher rum excise taxes to Puerto
Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and provided tax breaks to a
wide range of other groups and interests, including motorsports
entertainment complexes and mine rescue teams.
Among the other sweeteners:
* special expensing rules for certain film and TV
* tax-exempt financing for New York Liberty Zone, an area
around the site of the World Trade Center.
* extension of American Samoa economic development credit
Green energy was another big winner in the fiscal cliff
bill. Roughly a dozen provisions would extend credits and
incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, energy-efficient
appliances, biodiesel and renewable diesel, and other
alternative energy initiatives.
The legislation also would kill the part of Obama's 2010
Affordable Care Act designed to let millions of elderly and
disabled people get help at home rather than be placed in
institutional care, which tends to be more expensive.
Democrats acknowledge that the insurance initiative known as
the Community Living Assistance Services and Support program, or
CLASS, is financially flawed but they had argued it should be
fixed rather than ended.
The House voted to repeal that provision 11 months ago.
Also tucked in the bill, known as the American Taxpayer
Relief Act of 2012, are measures to avert the so-called "dairy
cliff" - a steep increase in milk prices that would otherwise
take place this year.
The measures would extend farm subsidy programs and prevent
dairy subsidies from reverting to 1949 levels, which would have
meant retail milk prices could have doubled to about $7 per
One thing lawmakers did not slide into the legislation: a
raise for themselves. The Senate bill says members of Congress
will get no cost-of-living adjustment in their pay for fiscal