Tax cut bill expandsWASHINGTON — Seeking support for a controversial tax-cut compromise, the White House and key lawmakers agreed to renew expiring breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy Thursday as part of a bill to prevent a spike in income taxes on Jan. 1.
By: By David Espo, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
WASHINGTON — Seeking support for a controversial tax-cut compromise, the White House and key lawmakers agreed to renew expiring breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy Thursday as part of a bill to prevent a spike in income taxes on Jan. 1.
Tax provisions aimed at increasing production of hybrid automobiles, biodiesel fuel, energy-efficient homes, coal and energy-efficient household appliances would be extended through the end of 2011 under the bill, according to a summary describing the outlines of the expanded bill.
The summary circulated as the White House predicted that the deal President Barack Obama struck with top Republicans would clear by year’s end — even though House Democrats voted Thursday not to allow it to reach the floor for a vote without changes to scale back tax relief for the rich.
“If it’s take it or leave it, we’ll leave it,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, after a closed-door meeting in which rank-and-file Democrats chanted, “Just say no.”
“The deal will get passed,” said presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs. There were no predictions to the contrary among senior Democrats on either side of the Capitol.
As announced by Obama on Monday, the deal would extend tax breaks at all income levels that are due to expire on Jan. 1, renew a program of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed that is due to lapse within days and implement a one-year cut in Social Security taxes.
The two-year cost of the plan, estimated at as much as $900 billion, would further swell record federal deficits.
Despite the additional red ink, the president has said the plan is essential to add strength to an economy recovering slowly from the worst recession in eight decades. Joblessness stands at 9.8 percent, and a top White House official bluntly warned Democrats earlier in the week they would bear responsibility for a return to recession if they blocked the measure.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said he expects most of his rank and file to support the bill. Prominent House Republicans back it, too, although they have generally refrained from speaking out at a time when doing so would divert attention from the spectacle of Obama at odds with lawmakers of his own party.
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, in line to become House speaker when Republicans take power in January, “supports the framework as agreed to by” Obama and McConnell and spoke with the president about it over the weekend, a spokesman said Thursday.
Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, whose views on economic issues are influential among House Republicans, also swung behind it. “While I have concerns with some specific aspects of the plan, I support the proposed framework to avert further economic hardship and provide a first step to restore the foundations for sustained growth and job creation,” he said in an interview.
It was not clear precisely what changes House Democrats would seek, but much of the criticism focused on a provision that would cut taxes on large estates.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “That was a bridge too far for many of our members” already upset about Obama’s decision to bow to Republican demands for extending tax cuts on individuals making over $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000.