Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 10, 2010

'TAX EXTENDERS' PACKAGE PASSES SENATE.... We're starting to see at least some movement in the Senate on legislation related to the economy. In recent weeks, the upper chamber, usually overcome by scandalous Republican obstructionism, has passed a modest jobs bill and an extension in unemployment benefits.

Today, it approved an even more ambitious measure.

The Senate approved a $140 billion package of tax breaks and aid to the unemployed Wednesday, the most substantial effort by the chamber to boost the nation's economy since passing the stimulus bill last year. Six Republicans joined 56 Democrats to pass the "tax extenders" measure, 62 to 36. [...]

"While our Republican colleagues on health care have been stonewall[ing], on jobs they know that they block us at their own political peril . . . and substantive peril as well," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The Senate measure contains one-year extensions of unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance, plus extra funding to help states pay for Medicaid. The bill would also help struggling private pension funds and block a scheduled cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

Beyond those provisions, the bill carries renewals of several expired tax credits, including those for research and development, biodiesel, energy-efficient home improvements and the deduction of state and local sales taxes. Those extensions helped attract the support of Republicans, and the praise of business groups.

Here's the roll call. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against the bill and supported a Republican filibuster. But on final passage, six Republicans -- Bond, Collins, Murkowski, Snowe, Vitter, and Voinovich -- joined the majority. (Maybe Vitter is getting a little worried about his re-election campaign?)

It's hard to get too excited about the Senate package -- this is the kind of step the chamber is expected to approve -- but given the low expectations of the Senate being able to do much of anything, it's nice to see some movement.

The House version is significantly different, and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the new chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, raised the prospect today of a formal conference committee to work out the differences. Since Republicans would filibuster the selection of participants, and the final package again, this would drag out the process even longer.

But in the meantime, we have something resembling progress.

Steve Benen 4:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (5)

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Comments

Most Republicans don't like progress. They will say they voted against this bill because of the benefit extensions, but it will look bad to lots of voters. On NPR today I heard Obama's numbers are up a bit, Republicans down a little and below Democrats (but Congress as a whole very bad numbers.)

The traditional Democratic tax strategy isn't good enough. They need to revisit and push taxes on securities and commodities trades to offset other taxes. This is good because it taxes an unproductive sector of the economy. You'd think Republicans would agree, but of course not since "unproductive" is selectively applied depending on economic case and maybe race (as in aspirin "is white and it works.") Dems also need to push taking the FICA exemption away. All this is better IMHO than raising top rates per se, unless "top" is redefined in the millions and not a few hundred k.

Also, taxes are better sold as trade-offs (must be honest of course) than net increases. A new tax on gasoline can only honestly be criticized as a "tax increase" per se if not offset by tax decreases. Maybe run up the gas tax little by little but raise standard deduction all the while, etc.

Posted by: Neil B on March 10, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

And of course, eliminate preferential treatment for capital gains. Some sort of indexing is still OK with me despite "unfair to money in mattresses" arguments etc. Let's reduce the child tax credit too: why are e.g. under 40k childless subsidizing kids of those making 80k etc., paying for public schools is enough.

Posted by: Neil B on March 10, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

The financial transactions tax that penalizes rapid fire computer trading arbitrage, but leaves investors that do not jump in and out of positions every day is both good politics and good policy. I would love to see this introduced as a deficit reduction mechanism, since the wall st bailout contributed mightily to the deficit.

Posted by: beyond left on March 10, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

So Scott Brown is now further to the right than frackin' David Vitter and Kit Bond??!!

Posted by: Jason on March 11, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

There was this period when i had been bored to tears reading other people's viewpoints as well as mind through his or her blogging. But merely after a while when i got right here to your postings, the love of reading and also smiling on peoples' regular post seem to return, my curiosity has peaked again all thanks to you actually my friend. I hope you continue this a long time. Good job my pal.

Posted by: adult movies on April 13, 2011 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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