Tax extenders bill delayed again, with House divided & Senate adjourned

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 28 – The House continued partisan and internal Democratic party wrangling Friday over the “tax extenders” bill to reactivate renewable fuel tax breaks which expired last December, extend unemployment benefits, and other measures including a Medicare “doc fix” to avoid a pay cut to doctors. Even after the House Democratic leadership cut the costs of the bill and broke it into two parts to separate the “doc fix,” conservative Blue Dog Democrats were holding out for further cost cutting. Meanwhile, other Democrats joined Republicans to oppose additional taxes on hedge funds and other business interests.

Thursday’s slim hope of having quick House passage followed by quick Senate agreement disappeared with the decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to adjourn for the Memorial Day break without voting on the tax extenders bill – even if the House manages to pass the bill. There remains the possibility that the House will pass the bill Friday, to have it ready for the Senate’s June 7 return. Even if the Senate does take up the bill the week of June 7, further delay is likely since Reid has said that he expects the Senate to insist on amending the House bill, resulting in further delay.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said in the House debate Friday that since “Businesses in the city and on the farm are struggling,” it is the wrong time to support the administration’s “failed economic policies” by imposing new taxes and adding to the budget deficit. He said that instead of a new tax-and-spend bill, the solution is to “get government out of the way and the economy will come roaring back.” Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) predicted that the “tax increasing, job killing” bill will never be signed into law. He said that “nearly every business group is opposed to this package” and that “employers across the country say this bill will hurt the economy.”

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) responded by asking Republican members to recognize that “the fiscal crisis . . . was created by the previous administration.” He added that the Americans who’ve lost their jobs, lost their healthcare and lost their homes include Republicans as well as Democrats. He called for Republicans to join in finding “some way to work together . . . to able to bring jobs back to the United States . . . and to make the tax system fairer.” He urged members to “vote for this bill. It’s the best that we can do at this point.”

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