Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Dec 14: S.A.4753, The Reid-McConnell Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, an amendment to H.R. 4853, is apparently on track to pass the Senate later today. The bill, originally designed to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, has emerged from negotiations with the Administration and Republican leaders, and now includes add-ons which followed Senate negotiations. It is now considered to be an $858 billion tax deal some are calling the "second stimulus." The bill still includes the highly controversial tax cuts for income earners over $250,000 and breaks for high income earners on inheritance tax. Both provisions, which have apparently received endorsement from a large number of Republican and Democratic senators, still remain a major point of contention with House members which must reapprove the amended bill. A cloture motion on the bill passed the Senate yesterday with a 83-15-2 vote.
Recently added to the bill is a Subtitle dealing with Energy and the extension of certain expiring provisions including: Incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel; Credit for refined coal facilities; New energy efficient home credit; Excise tax credits and outlay payments for alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixtures; Special rule for sales or dispositions to implement FERC or State electric restructuring policy for qualified electric utilities; Suspension of limitation on percentage depletion for oil and gas from marginal wells; Extension of grants for specified energy property in lieu of tax credits; Extension of provisions related to alcohol used as fuel; Energy efficient appliance credit; Credit for nonbusiness energy property; and Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property.
One of the dissenters to the Senate "compromise" was Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). In a lengthy Floor speech, Levin said, "I believe that before this Congress adjourns we must extend unemployment benefits that are so vital to the economic survival of many American families and to our economic recovery. I also believe we must ensure that working families are not hit with a tax increase that endangers our recovery. But the legislation before us exacts a high price, and it should be amended to accomplish those goals without giving unwarranted benefits to the wealthiest Americans. Unfortunately, the procedure under which it is intended for us to consider it will apparently give us no opportunity to correct its shortcomings. The tax cuts included in this bill, while they would benefit working families, are too skewed toward the well-off, and would exacerbate a growing trend of income inequality in our country. Today, the wealthiest one percent of Americans receive about one-quarter of total U.S. income. Thirty years ago, they earned only about 10 percent of total U.S. income. Not only have incomes for the wealthiest sector of the population continued to grow. Incomes for middle- class families have been stagnant and have actually fallen when adjusted for inflation. . ."