Throughout the tax debate, we heard righteous indignation from both parties regarding the need to close up special interest loopholes in the tax code. Yet the special interest loopholes were the only items preserved in the cliff tax bill. The entire package of over $40 billion in corporate subsidies and green social engineering was taken from a Senate Finance Committee Bill, which unfortunately, was supported by 6 Republicans last August – Orrin Hatch, Mike Crapo, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Grassley, John Thune, and Pat Roberts.
Included in the committee bill, which ultimately became a part of the fiscal cliff bill, was $18 billion worth of green energy pork. The most prominent item was the Production Tax Credit, the equivalent of the Earned Income Tax Credit for Big Wind.
Other special interest handouts include the following:
- A credit for energy efficient upgrades to homes. It covers 10% of the costs of qualified home efficiency upgrades.
- A credit to cover 30% of the costs for installing refueling stations for alternative-fuel vehicles at a home or business.
- A cellulosic biofuel producer credit of $1.01 per gallon, which would be expanded to include fuel produced from cultivated algae, cyanobacteria or lemna. Yes, this is Obama’s algae energy pipe dream. There’s also a special depreciation allowance for cellulosic biofuel plants, which would be extended through the end of next year. As we’ve noted before, cellulosic biofuels are non-existent on the commercial market, yet these subsidies will help strengthen the mandate to use this phantom fuel. Oil and gas companies that decline to blend in this phantom fuel must incur penalties.
- A credit of $1 per gallon for biodiesel, which would be extended through 2013, retroactive to the end of last year.
- A credit for construction of new energy-efficient homes that provides contractors $1,000 to $2,000 per home. The credit would be extended through 2013, retroactive to the end of last year. Talk about distorting the housing market.
- Energy-efficient appliance credits that range from $25 to $250 per appliance for the production of energy-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators.
- A 50-cent per gallon credit for alternative fuel mixtures, which apply to liquefied petroleum gas, compressed or liquefied natural gas, and coal-to-liquids fuels.
- An individual income tax credit for plug-in motorcycles.
This is why it’s so important to shed light on the dark corners of committee activity. Committee-approved bills that don’t make it to the floor are often inserted into other pieces of legislation when nobody is watching. It is during committee markups when many Republicans show their true colors. In recent years, legislative scorecards from conservative organizations have helped steer members away from bad votes on the floor. However, we need to come up with a method of scoring committee votes as well. Most committee action in Congress is a bipartisan love fest for bigger government. We need to scuttle bad legislation early and often.