Murdoch's tax break upsets Democrats

More than 140 Democratic members of congress signed a letter to President Clinton yesterday asking him to veto a bill containing a sub-clause designed to give Rupert Murdoch a $63m (£39m) tax break.

Outraged Democratic members of the House of Representatives took it in turns on the congressional floor to denounce the special treatment dispensed to Mr Murdoch as an eloquent symbol of what they perceive to be the Republican resolve to take away from the poor to give to the rich.

Rosa de Lauro contrasted the Republicans' welfare reform bill, designed drastically to cut back government aid to the poor, with what she called "this outrageous billionaire boondoggle". Joe Moakley scoffed at Republican efforts to transfer federal funds "from the mouths of babes to the pockets of billionaires".

Most of the provisions of the offending bill received bipartisan support last week, but it was only after the voting was over that Democrats deciphered a line in the fine print and learnt that Mr Murdoch's Fox TV would receive special tax treatment on the sale of WATL, an Atlanta-based television station.

Peter Deutsch of Florida, who drafted yesterday's letter to Mr Clinton, is one of several congressional Democrats who believe that Newt Gingrich, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, had a hand in sneaking through the legislative item favouring Mr Murdoch.

It is a charge that Mr Gingrich has vigorously denied, but Democratic suspicion is fuelled by the knowledge that the Speaker had a well-publicised meeting with Mr Murdoch earlier this year and that he has signed a book contract with Harper-Collins, a publishing house owned by themedia magnate. Congressman Don Klink linked the special treatment Mr Murdoch was receiving to a $4.5m book advance Mr Gingrich originally accepted - but turned down following a political furore - from HarperCollins.

"I knew something was going to happen," Mr Klink said. "Now we find out a $4.5m book deal has transpired into a $63m special tax credit." David Bonior, the House of Representatives' Democratic whip, also blamed Mr Murdoch's "multi-million dollar boondoggle" on Mr Gingrich, and claimed that the Republicans were going to kill the tax break until they found Mr Murdoch was involved.

Weakening the Democratic case was the fact that it was a Senate Democrat, Carol Moseley-Braun, who introduced the offending line into the bill - not to help out Mr Murdoch but to benefit the black owners of the company purchasing the Atlanta television station. Yet Matt Berzok, a congressional assistant to Mr Deutsch, insisted there was "no way" that Mr Murdoch would be receiving his tax break without the House Speaker's knowledge. "Gingrich has to be involved, has to have known," Mr Berzok said.

"This is not Ronald Reagan, this is the most savvy politician in Congress in 20 years. My boss, who's convinced Gingrich was involved, put it this way: `If it walks like a duck, if it smells like a duck, if it looks like a duck, it's a duck'."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas