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Analysis: Dog of year in Congress whimpers to end

If the prospect is for a one-month extension of farm programs, there has been virtually no public discussion about the dozens of tax provisions due to expire at year's end.

Some originally were placed into law only temporarily to mask their true impact on the deficit. Now, they are renewed periodically, and temporarily, because the cost of permanent extensions could be prohibitive.

Among the more obscure is a provision that allocates to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the proceeds of a $13.25-per-gallon federal excise tax on imported rum. Without action by Congress, the amount to be turned over would fall to $10.50 per gallon.

Other items allow racehorse owners to write off their investments relatively quickly, and permit residents in nine states that have no income tax to claim a federal deduction for the state sales tax they pay.

Concern over milk prices, tax breaks and payments to doctors all cross party lines.

Not so unemployment benefits, a Democratic priority.

"I don't see much appetite on our side for continuing this extension of benefits," Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told reporters.

Obama and Democrats do.

Benefits for 1.3 million workers unemployed for longer than six months expire Dec. 28, and that would be the case for 1.9 million more people in the first half of next year.

Boehner said he was waiting to review any proposal the White House would like to make. Pelosi announced that an extension would be a requirement for House Democrats to vote in favor of a budget deal.

Then there's the annual defense bill, which has passed Congress like clockwork each year since John F. Kennedy was in the White House.

This time, it's mission not yet accomplished.


EDITOR'S NOTE a¿¿ David Espo is AP's chief congressional reporter.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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