House Tax Bills Would Raise Deficits

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Ignoring Senate doubts and presidential veto threats, the House last week moved forward with legislation to permanently extend various tax breaks that would otherwise expire.

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved legislation that would increase projected deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years because the lost revenue would not be offset by spending cuts or revenue increases elsewhere in the budget.

The legislation is also a poor substitute for comprehensive, bipartisan tax reform, and Senate leaders have indicated they will be in no hurry to act on the House proposals. These tax breaks are known as “tax extenders” because they have been temporarily extended in past years.

The House approved making several of them permanent on a 279-137 vote Thursday, with more than three dozen Democrats going along with the plan. Without offsets elsewhere in the budget, these tax breaks — including various charity-related measures — will require borrowing $14.3 billion over the next decade.

Also on Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved additional extenders legislation that would increase deficits by $224 billion over 10 years, primarily for business tax breaks.

In other congressional news, a deadlock continues over current-year Homeland Security spending although stop-gap funding is set to expire Feb. 27. The House passed a funding bill that would undercut President Obama’s immigration policies but the bill has failed to win Senate approval. The sooner a bipartisan compromise can be worked out, the better.  

External links:
Tax Extender Debate is a Case Study in Fiscal Irresponsibility (Concord)
‘Tax Expenditures’ Cutting $1.5 Trillion from Federal Revenue (Concord)

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