Congress Choosing Between Big-Government Newspaper Subsidy and Free-Market Newspaper Tax Credit

April 1, 2011

Rep. Peter F. Papershill, citing declining revenues in America’s newspaper industry, urged earlier this week that the federal government set up a subsidy program that will directly support 50% of the operating budget for newspapers in the United States. Newspapers would submit their expenses for approval by a subcommittee of elected officials to be eligible for the subsidy.

“America cannot afford to fall behind the rest of the world when it comes to having a strong press,” said Papershill. “With this government action, we are saving newspapers, creating lots of jobs, and making sure newspapers are supportive of what we in Congress say and do.”

A bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats quickly offered a counterproposal to Papershill’s bill.

“America’s newspapers need help, but simply writing them a check is not the answer,” the sponsors of the alternative bill announced at a press conference. “That’s why our tax relief plan is the way to go.”

The counterproposal would provide a tax credit to each newspaper equivalent to 50% of expenses. Newspapers would submit their expenses for approval by a subcommittee of elected officials to be eligible for the tax credit.

“Our idea is completely different from Papershill’s,” the sponsors said. “We’re giving tax cuts, not a subsidy program, while still saving newspapers, creating lots of jobs, and making sure newspapers are supportive of what we in Congress say and do.”

Early indications are that, while Papershill’s plan is doomed to failure, the compromise is likely to pass.

“If it lowers someone’s taxes, I’m all for it,” said one congressman. “Those who are opposed to this tax credit are just big government lackeys who want to tax America’s newspapers to death.”

The bill, the Periodical Rescue And Veracity Deliverance Act (PRAVDA) of 2011, is not without its critics.

“This is absurd,” said Rep. Jefferson Smith. “There’s no real difference between a 50% direct subsidy and a 50% tax credit. Furthermore, by encouraging speech friendly to the government over critical content, this bill is a fundamental attack on the First Amendment.”

When asked for comment, sponsors responded, “That’s just Jeff being Jeff. He’s full of crazy ideas.”

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