WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on a House Ways and Means Committee panel said Build America Bonds are one of his top priorities for renewal as Congress examines more than 100 of the 2011 and 2012 tax extenders.
“I must note my frustration that Congress has once again allowed so many of these important tax provisions to expire,” Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass, ranking minority member of the select revenue measures subcommittee, said during a tax-extenders hearing Thursday morning.
“I’m also discouraged that we’re just now examining the 2011 extenders, even though they expired several months ago,” he said.
Under the BAB program, which was created in 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and expired at the end of 2010, issuers sold more than $181 billion of BABs and received subsidy payments from the federal government equal to 35% of their interest costs. President Obama has proposed reinstating the program at lower subsidy rates.
Republicans, however, have said that any proposal to revive the BAB program would be dead on arrival.
Subcommittee chairman Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio., said the hearing “provides a formal opportunity for the subcommittee to hear from our House colleagues about the merits of extending — or not extending — many of these tax policies.”
“With a few exceptions, temporary tax provisions that are worthy should be made permanent,” Tiberi said. “Those that are not worthy should be terminated. For too long, this Congress has simply rubber-stamped the extenders package without any review or oversight of whether the individual provisions are effective, whether they create jobs or whether they still serve their intended purpose.”
Panel members at the nearly four-hour hearing heard testimony only from House colleagues who have either introduced or co-sponsored bills relating to tax extenders that either expired at the end of 2011 or will expire at the end of 2012.
Members made their cases to the subcommittee to extend a variety of tax provisions, including the research and development tax credit, the deduction for state and local sales taxes, and a variety of energy tax credits.
Ahead of the hearing, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation published a 34-page background report on selected federal tax provisions scheduled to expire in 2011 or 2012, including the qualified zone academy bonds, qualified green building bonds and sustainable design project bonds.
Earlier in the week, two top Democratic taxwriters wrote to Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., accusing Republicans of overlooking important tax provisions such as Build America Bonds and energy-manufacturing tax credits.
Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., and Neal said those tax provisions, which expired in 2010, were effective in supporting job creation and merited consideration by the subcommittee.
“We oppose the elimination of those provisions and we urge you to reconsider the limitation you have placed on which tax extenders may be considered by the subcommittee,” they wrote. “The majority’s approach fails to recognize the importance of tax provisions in promoting job creation, investment and economic growth.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine., called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to cancel the next congressional recess to begin debating “major issues of the day now, not after the election in a lame-duck session.”
There are a number of legislative issues, including tax extenders, that Congress could lay the groundwork for now, she said.