Levin Floor Statement on Tax Extenders Bill

Dec 3, 2014

WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 5771, a one-year extension of certain tax provisions:

This legislation is crucial as much for what it avoids as what it accomplishes.

A one-year extension avoids the dangerous plan pushed by House Republicans for much of the last year to make permanent a select number of tax provisions at a cost of nearly $1 trillion. That plan was not only fiscally irresponsible, it also left many provisions behind that are vital to working families and small businesses – including the exclusion for mortgage debt forgiveness, and the New Markets Tax Credits, and continuations of the expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit.

This bill also avoids an almost equally harmful proposal under consideration last week that would have permanently extended a select group of expiring provisions and would also have given permanent breaks to a relative few, while costing more than $400 billion and leaving out critical provisions that help working families. I actively and publicly opposed that proposal. It generated a veto threat from the President.

The provisions in today’s extender bill need more serious consideration than would have been provided in that proposal. Both as to their substance, whether they contribute to economic growth and jobs, and how they fit into the need for both equity and fiscal responsibility.

Some of the extender provisions have contributed to economic growth, such as the provisions for R&D, promoting development of renewable energy, encouraging development of small business, and increasing educational opportunity.

Others should not be part of any permanent action, such as bonus depreciation, which was always contemplated as a temporary measure to stimulate economic growth and activity.

Some provisions should end.

And others need to be addressed as we make better sense of the international tax structure, including closing tax loopholes.

While I did not agree with many provisions of his tax reform proposal, Chairman Camp did attempt to address issues in a more comprehensive way.

It was a serious mistake for the Republicans to have then taken pieces of it, trying to make them permanent without paying a dime to offset the more than $800 billion cost of doing so.

The bill today therefore only maintains the status quo for this year.

To not act would disrupt the coming tax filing season for millions of American workers and businesses, which have relied on Congress to extend these provisions and will, in a matter of weeks, begin filing their 2014 tax returns.

As a result I will support this measure.

As we act in the future, including on tax reform, I believe the lesson that should be learned is that it is critical to try to work on a bipartisan basis, recognizing the importance of maintaining support for the values underpinning legislative action.