Wind energy, NASCAR, and plug-in golf carts – Las Vegas Review

August 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Those who have read the Constitution might remember that measures having to do with raising revenue must originate only in the House of Representatives.

And in fact the House has been busy this session, enacting new legislation designed to eliminate numerous tax “loopholes,” creating instead a new tax code with lower rates, applied more equitably, with far fewer attempts to micro-manage business investment and behavior.

Their reward? Such efforts are widely dismissed as “purely symbolic,” since no one expects the U.S. Senate to agree to any of it.

In fact, the Democratic Senate’s tax-writing panel last week busied itself reviving dozens of tax breaks for pet businesses, including bio-diesel and wind energy producers.

The cost of the $200 billion-plus package debated by the Senate Finance Committee Thursday (granting tax exemptions is thought of as “costing” the government money, in Washington parlance) grew by more than $50 billion in the day following its release on Wednesday, as senators added back the tax credit for wind production and a tax break for builders of NASCAR tracks and other motorsports facilities.

Wait: It gets better.

“Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a longtime sponsor of tax reform, won a committee vote to revive a tax break for plug-in motorcycles and golf carts,” The Associated Press reports.

Are the members ashamed? Hardly. In fact, since the number of these special tax breaks had expanded from 42 in 1998 to a whopping 154 last year, but could drop to around 134 in the current bill, “Panel members claimed the exercise was actually a step forward for tax reform because they had summoned the courage to allow almost 20 tax breaks to expire,” The AP reports. “They included a much-criticized tax credit for ethanol producers.”

And when do you suppose they’ll slip that one back in? Christmas eve?

“The tide is turning,” said Orrin Hatch, the panel’s top Republican. “For the first time in my 21 years on this committee, we are deliberately moving in the opposite direction.”

“It’s the first step in a long journey,” agreed Kent Conrad, D-N.D., though he acknowledged “There is a certain irony” to claiming the renewal of all the remaining tax breaks is a step forward toward tax reform.

So they actually know the meaning of the word “irony”?

You could not make this stuff up.

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