Yes, that professional organization I sort of reluctantly belong to, the American Institute of Architects, has glowingly endorsed the bailout because some of the pork they wanted was included. This came to me from the President of the AIA, Marshall Purnell and CEO Christine McEntee:
(On Friday), President Bush signed into law legislation intended to stabilize the American financial system. This new law seeks to provide the resources necessary to restore solvency to the increasingly tight credit markets and renew confidence in the American economy.
As the markets on Wall Street have struggled over the past few weeks, many of us grew justifiably concerned that the crisis could spread nationwide and affect our current projects, our firms, and our industry as a whole. As banks have restricted lending, many firms that rely on short-term lines of credit to finance operations have grown worried that these credit sources could dry up. And as clients are increasingly delaying payments, this has understandably caused great concern to AIA members nationwide.
The enactment of this law should begin to renew confidence in the economy. Opponents of the bailout have criticized the package as a giveaway to financial firms, while others have called the package an unnecessary and dangerous government intervention into the free market. Without some sort of economic relief, however, most economists agree the economy would have continued to slide deeper into recession, threatening the foundation of the American financial system.
Aside from the provisions designed to improve the financial system, I am pleased to report the new law extends a number of key tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy—long-standing AIA priorities. Specifically, the energy efficiency commercial building tax deduction, a critical federal incentive for green commercial building that was set to expire at the end of the year, will be extended until December 31, 2013. The extension of this deduction has been one of the AIA’s top legislative priorities for nearly two years.
The release goes on to talk about what steps the AIA is undertaking to help architects on their website and asks for input. Well, here’s mine and it’s as easy as reading my site.
It’s no secret that I despise the too-common practice of using the tax code to regulate behavior as well as collecting revenue. The examples Purnell and McEntee cite are but two of the byzantine subchapters of the federal tax code, whereas I’d like to see much more of a consumption tax. That would also help the AIA to achieve its goal of energy efficiency if consumption is taxed; while the organization has gone off the deep end as far as the climate change and sustainability questions are concerned they do have a valid goal in promoting energy efficiency.
In the meantime, we’re stuck with this pork-ridden bailout that will likely cost taxpayers upward of a trillion dollars when all is said and done. (While that’s an impressive figure, we spend that amount in Washington now about every four months. I’m not sure which is the scarier fact.) The problem I see with this is that those inside the Beltway will need to print more money to make this happen and inflation will once again rear its ugly head. Moreover, if Barack Obama is elected and follows through on his promised spending even more money will be vacuumed out of the private sector, where most of us in the architectural field get our clientele. And even though the organization hasn’t officially endorsed one candidate or the other for President, the majority of their PAC’s contributions go to Democrats. (That’s why I won’t donate to their PAC.)
So I’m making yet another note about the political views of the group representing my profession, and it’s another black mark next to their name.