Appropriate Senate Caution on ‘Tax Extenders’

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The House Ways and Means Committee approved bills last week to make permanent an array of tax breaks that would increase federal deficits, but Senate Republican leaders indicated they would put such measures on the back burner.

The full House could vote on the provisions this week. The Congressional Budget Office estimates they could cost a total of $93.3 billion in lost revenue over the next 10 years.

These and similar tax provisions — known as “extenders” — have been temporary measures that essentially subsidize certain special interests or activities.

Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan said his panel would take action on similar tax breaks in the future.

Supporters of such measures should at least ensure they don’t increase federal borrowing; the tax breaks, at a minimum, should be offset with spending cuts or revenue increases elsewhere in the budget.

But as Senate leaders apparently understand, Congress should be focusing on more comprehensive tax reform.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, predicted the upper chamber would not respond quickly to narrow tax bills from the House as long as the Senate Finance Committee “feels there is an opportunity for overall tax reform.”

External links:
Tax Extender Debate Is a Case Study in Fiscal Irresponsibility (Concord)
‘Tax Expenditures’ Cutting $1.5 Trillion From Federal Revenue (Concord)
Tax Reform Is the Cry, Until Details Are Offered (N.Y. Times)

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