In the 112th Congress, Representative Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan has stepped back from his HAPPY ACT of yesteryear. The HAPPY ACT (more formally H.R. 3501) was introduced by McCotter in the 111th Congress to make any and all pet expenses up to $3,500 every year tax-deductible. Tax deductions exist as a way of rewarding behavior that might be individually costly but that is beneficial to society, or as a way for society to lighten the burdens of those it considers especially worthy. While we might enjoy our pets’ company, and while in certain limited circumstances such as assistance dogs provide an instrumental benefit to their owners, the provision of chemotherapy for dying cats or luxury diamond collars for pampered dogs neither indicates a financial burden nor benefits society. McCotter faced some ridicule in the 111th Congress for voting against social programs for poor people while trying to elevate dog spa treatments to tax-deductible status. In the current Congress, Thad McCotter seems to have reconsidered: the HAPPY ACT has not been reintroduced for consideration.
The more some things change, the more other things remain the same. Lynn Westmoreland has been re-elected for the fourth time to the U.S Congress by the people of the 3rd district of Georgia, who don’t appear to expect much out of their representative. Since he was first elected in 2004, Westmoreland has failed to introduce a single bill for consideration by the House of Representatives. In his current term to date, Westmoreland has maintained that record by not lifting a finger to a keyboard or a pen to paper. For six years now, Westmoreland has not written a single bill. He has maintained a schedule of another kind, however: earlier this year Rep. Westmoreland was the honored guest in the AFLAC suite at a campaign contribution party thrown by lobbyists for the financial services industry.