One think I do thank Dubya for

Maybe the only thing: recently he signed into law the Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008. Years too late, for my taste, but better late than never. I'm not sure what the old AMT tax was intended to do, but what it did to me was tax me on exercised stock option value even if I hadn't sold them. Way back in the day of the old Internet stock bubble, that meant paying a ton in taxes on stock that I couldn't sell as an employee.

Of course, later, the stock came back down to earth, conveniently when the window for employee selling opened back up and after the government had bled me dry. Instead of getting my AMT taxes back as a refund, the government kept it all and only allowed me to apply the credit as an offset against capital gains of which I never had enough in the subsequent years to claim much of the credit.

So for some ten years, the government has had a big interest free loan from yours truly. So forgive me if I'm not feeling so generous about funding bailouts of mismanaged banks and those dinosaurs in Detroit.

The relevant clauses of the next tax act, for those dot-commers affected:

• Increase of AMT Refundable Credit Amount for Individuals with Long-Term Unused Credits for Prior Minimum Tax Liability. The Extenders Act changes the way in which the refundable portion of the "long-term unused minimum tax credit" for a particular tax year is computed, and eliminates the previously applicable phaseout of the credit based on adjusted gross income, potentially increasing the credit available in that year. Individuals with long-term unused minimum tax credits in a tax year ending on or before December 31, 2012 now may receive a refundable credit equal to the greater of (i) 50 percent of the long-term unused minimum tax credit or (ii) the amount, if any, of the long-term unused minimum tax credit determined for the preceding tax year.

• Specific Relief for AMT Attributable to an Incentive Stock Option Exercise. The Extenders Act eliminates any otherwise outstanding liability for tax, penalties and interest attributable to an AMT liability arising from the exercise of any incentive stock option before 2008. In addition, the amount of a taxpayer's long-term unused minimum tax credit described above that is allowed as a refund in each of 2008 and 2009 is increased by 50 percent of any interest or penalty paid by a taxpayer that would have been abated by the Extenders Act if it had not already been paid.