GOP blocks action on tax, renewable energy package
By JIM ABRAMS – Jul 30, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the fourth time this summer Republicans stopped the Senate from taking up wide-ranging legislation that extends tax breaks for teachers, businesses and parents and provides tax credits to an array of renewable energy entrepreneurs.
Major business groups, usual GOP allies, have implored Congress to act on the tax credits, many which expired at the end of last year or will run out at the end of this year. But for many Republicans, it's a matter or principle and politics: many oppose what they say are new tax increases to pay for parts of the package and nearly all say the Senate's only business now is acting on an energy bill that promotes drilling and other measures to boost domestic oil supply.
The White House, citing new taxes and other objections to the bill, threatened a presidential veto.
The vote Wednesday was 51-43, nine short of the 60 needed to begin floor debate.
"All the Republicans want to do is not pay for anything and we know the House would not accept that," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., anticipating the defeat.
But Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said his party sees a "need to dispose of the pending energy bill to help bring down the price of gas at the pump before turning to other matters."
The bill would extend some $18 billion worth of renewable energy tax credits, helping out investors in wind and solar power, clean coal, plug-in electric vehicles and a variety of others.
Last month more than 300 high-tech and manufacturing companies warned Congress that failure to act quickly "will bring investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to a standstill."
Greg Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association said Tuesday that his industry risks losing $11 billion in investment and 75,000 jobs if the tax credit expires next year.
The bill also would extend the research and development tax credit that expired last December, and would revive tax credits for the deduction of state and local general sales taxes, higher education tuition and teacher expenses.
It includes a one-year fix for the alternative minimum tax that is supposed to only affect the very wealthy but could hit some 25 million taxpayers unless Congress takes preventive action.
Here's to hoping these regressive obstructionists lose in a landslide this November.
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