Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless, 202.224.4515
Amid Democratic Dysfunction, Hatch Supports One-Year Extenders Deal
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) criticized the Obama Administration’s actions in derailing negotiations for a tax extenders package and pledged, absent a broader agreement, his support for a one-year deal.
“Once again, the President and his allies here in the Senate missed a big opportunity to address some of their party’s priorities with the tax extenders legislation. It’s difficult to imagine that they’ll have another bite at that same apple in the next Congress. Absent a deal, we are now left with only one option – the one-year extension that will likely be passed by the House this week. Once again, a one-year extension is not that great a deal for families, individuals, and businesses. But, it’s far better than letting these provisions lapse entirely,” said Hatch.
Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor today:
Mr. President, I want to take a few minutes today to discuss the ongoing saga of the 2014 tax extenders package.
Getting this legislation passed through the Senate has been quite an ordeal from the outset. As you’ll recall, the Finance Committee reported its tax extenders package in April and, a few weeks later, progress stalled on the Senate floor when the Senate majority leadership refused to allow votes on any amendments.
After that time – which was in mid-May – the tax extenders sat somewhat in limbo, though both sides acknowledged a desire to get something passed during the lame duck session, if not before.
The Finance Committee extenders package, if you remember, extended 55 expired or expiring tax provisions for two years without making any of them permanent.
The House took a different approach, which was to make certain important tax provisions – like the R&D tax credit, for example – permanent, bringing more certainty to American businesses, families, and individuals.
Over the past several weeks, negotiations have been ongoing in hopes of producing a bill that combined the Senate Finance Committee’s package with the approach taken by the House.
Now, I’m generally hesitant to publicly comment about what happens behind closed doors in negotiations. But, on the other hand, much of what happened next has already been printed in the media. That being the case, I don’t feel too awkward discussing the recent turn of events that has brought us to where we are now with the tax extenders.
Last week, before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Speaker’s office and the Senate majority leader’s office were very close to reaching a deal on a tax extenders package, one that would have included all of the provisions from the EXPIRE Act, which is the Senate Finance Committee reported tax extenders bill, as well as a number of permanent tax extender provisions.
This emerging deal would have been a reasonable compromise between Republicans and Democrats and between the House and Senate approaches.
It was not the legislation I would have written, but as a compromise taking place in a Congress that is, for the time being, still divided, it was likely the best that both parties could hope for.
Like I said, Mr. President, we were on the cusp of a deal last week. Then, something strange happened.
On Tuesday, the White House caught wind of the potential deal – even though the terms had not yet been finalized – and issued a veto threat.
How often does that happen, Mr. President?
How often does a President issue a veto threat on potential deals still under negotiation?
And, how often do we find that extraordinary threat ratified by people who are involved in the negotiations?
Like I said, this was not a Republican wish list that was being negotiated. House Republicans were willing to make a number of tough concessions in order to get a deal across the finish line.
For example, the deal would have made permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit – a provision that first came into law in the Democrats’ partisan 2009 stimulus bill and that is a high priority item for Democrats.
It would have also made the state and local sales tax deduction – which is a high priority for a number of Congressional Democrats – permanent.
And, it would have rolled over the tax extenders that expired during 2013 – including many that most Republicans do not support – for another two years.
These were major concessions, Mr. President. And, to its credit, the House was willing to make them in the interests of a bipartisan agreement.
Most importantly, the deal was supported by the Senate Majority Leader, who, last time I checked, was a Democrat.
Yet, the deal wasn’t good enough for the President and for the more liberal members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Apparently, they weren’t willing to take yes for an answer.
Instead of compromising even a little bit, President Obama issued his veto threat and has been rallying Democratic Senators against the proposed deal.
As a result, it appears unlikely that any deal on the tax extenders package will be reached during this Congress. Instead, the most likely scenario appears to be that Congress will pass a one-year retroactive extension of tax provisions that have already expired.
Short of not passing anything at all, this is probably the worst of all possible worlds, Mr.. President.
Rather than the certainty that would come with making some of the more prominent individual and business tax extenders permanent, families, individuals, and businesses will have to once again put long-term plans on hold in hopes that Congress can get its act together next time around.
This is bad news for middle class families.
This is bad news for individuals.
This is bad news for job creators.
And, this is bad news for those of us hoping that the government will improve the way it does business any time in the near future.
We all know, Mr. President, that the make-up of the next Congress will be different than it is now.
I don’t mean to be too presumptuous, but I think it’s safe to say that the President and his liberal allies are unlikely to get a better tax extenders deal in the next Congress than the one the Senate Democratic Leadership had been negotiating up until last week.
Do any of my Democratic colleagues who have come out against the proposed deal really think their prospects are likely to improve next year?
I have to ask because, quite frankly, this recent turn of events is mind-boggling.
In the end, I think the only conclusion that makes sense is that this line of attack – the President’s veto threat and liberal opposition to the potential extenders deal – is more about politics than about policy.
It’s about the President’s strategy of following an electoral rebuke of his policies by tacking even further to the left.
And, it’s about Congressional Democrats efforts to pander to their liberal base at the expense of good governance.
I would hope that I’m wrong about this. But, like I said, there’s not another logical explanation. I hope the White House and its Senate allies will prove me wrong and come to the table with an offer that reflects a genuine compromise with the House.
I think the events of this past week have demonstrated divisions in the Democratic Party, and that those divisions are causing real problems.
Once again, we had the Senate Majority Leader in the room and ready to make a deal, only to be undercut by the President and his liberal allies in the Senate.
Of course, at the end of the day, I suppose none of us should be surprised at what has happened. After all, President Obama is not particularly known for being business friendly or placing his focus on job creation.
Whether it’s crippling environmental regulations, labor policy, or health care, the President has demonstrated that he’s all too willing to put his political ideology above the needs of our economy.
Make no mistake, the proposed tax extenders deal – the one the President scuttled with his veto threat – was all about job creation. It would have made the research and development tax credit, small business expensing, and other provisions permanent, giving certainty to the business community, paving the way for more investment.
The President’s latest gambit on the tax extenders is really just a series in a long line of instances where politics has trumped job creation.
Still, as one who has been willing to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I can’t help but be disappointed.
But, make no mistake, Mr. President, things are about to change around here. And, we’ll have an opportunity to right this ship.
We need to focus on an agenda that will actually grow our economy.
We need to focus on an agenda that will create jobs.
And, we need to focus on an agenda that will empower the American people.
That’s going to be the focus in the new Congress.
Once again, the President and his allies here in the Senate missed a big opportunity to address some of their party’s priorities with the tax extenders legislation. It’s difficult to imagine that they’ll have another bite at that same apple in the next Congress.
Absent a deal, we are now left with only one option – the one-year extension that will likely be passed by the House this week.
Once again, a one-year extension is not that great a deal for families, individuals, and businesses. But, it’s far better than letting these provisions lapse entirely.
Indeed, if we do nothing, we run into a series of problems, including a delayed filing season, which means millions of delayed refunds for American’s who count on them. In addition, doing nothing would essentially amount to a tax hike on millions of people and businesses.
Consequently, I plan to vote in favor of the one-year extension, unless of course, my colleagues on the other side finally come to their senses and allow a better deal to be had.
I yield the floor.
Next Article Previous Article