WASHINGTON — House Democrats, in recommendations made to the joint deficit-reduction committee, have called for reinstating Build America Bonds, increasing funding for clean water state revolving funds, allowing the Bush income tax cuts to expire, and imposing a risk-based fee on big banks, securities firms and other financial companies.
They also urged the committee to move forward with President Obama’s jobs bill proposals.
In a six-page letter, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee, urged the committee to immediately act on legislation he and other committee Democrats introduced in March, which contains a number of bond provisions, including one that would reinstate BABs at subsidy rates of 32% for the first year and 31% for the next year.
Levin’s bill also would reinstate the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s bank-qualified bond provision, allowing banks to deduct 80% of the cost of buying and carrying tax-exempt debt sold by issuers whose annual bond issuance is not more than $30 million, up from the current $10 million. That provision expired at the end of 2010, along with the ability to issue BABs with a 35% subsidy rate.
He pushed for provisions in his proposed Building American Jobs Act that would exempt all tax-exempt bonds from the alternative minimum tax and exempt water and sewer bonds from the private-activity bond cap.
Levin also called for the president’s jobs bill proposals to be enacted and urged the committee to move forward with revenue-neutral tax reform that requires higher-income earners to pay more taxes.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said Congress should pass a six-year bill that authorizes $500 billion for highway and other surface transportation programs. Lawmakers should also pass a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as two other bills — the American Jobs Act and the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act, he said.
The jobs bill would provide $50 billion in immediate surface transportation and aviation infrastructure investments for highways, transit, airports and passenger rail that would create and sustain almost 1.4 million middle-class jobs, Rahall said. The water quality bill would invest $13.8 billion over five years in wastewater infrastructure through the clean water state revolving fund and other efforts to improve water quality, he said.
Rep. Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said the deficit reduction panel should reconsider the idea of imposing a risk-based fee on banks, bank holding companies, securities firms, insurance companies, and other large financial companies that have assets of more than $50 billion and hedge funds with more than $10 billion. House conferees had proposed the fee during the debate over Dodd-Frank, he said.
Frank also called for increasing, by at least $1 billion, the size of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s reserve fund and said this could be accomplished by raising the SEC’s mergers and acquisitions fees and securities registration fees above the targets set forth in Dodd-Frank.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, urged that the Bush income tax cuts be allowed to expire and that Congress pass the provisions of Obama’s job bill that have bipartisan support. He also called for immediate action to address the current housing crisis.
House Appropriations Committee members, meanwhile, warned that if the joint supercommittee fails in its mission to further reduce the deficit and automatic across-the-board spending cuts are triggered in January, the Securities and Exchange Commission would lose about 235 full-time employees and suffer cutbacks in enforcement, examination, and disclosure programs.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission would be funded at less than two-thirds of the amount Obama requested in his fiscal 2012 budget request, Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the top Democrat on that committee, wrote in his report to the panel.