Boehner preparing ‘Plan B’ tax bill; wind PTC unlikely to be included

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday that he’s preparing to bring a “Plan B” bill to the floor that would extend existing tax rates for all but the wealthiest individuals, but aides and lawmakers say the legislation is unlikely to include an extension to the wind production tax credit or other temporary incentives.

The bill would extend current tax rates for people who make less than $1 million per year, the Ohio Republican said at a news conference this morning after a meeting of the House Republican Conference. The bill is expected to come to a vote Thursday.

The narrow legislation represents an effort to deal with part of the looming “fiscal cliff” — tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush — but it leaves unaddressed other unresolved issues including the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester and the fate of temporary incentives like the PTC.

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who has been among those calling for an extension of the wind credit, said “there was no discussion on that” in this morning’s conference meeting. She said that members this morning did discuss extending an exemption from the alternative minimum tax, which was included in a Senate “tax extenders” package along with the PTC extension, and easing the estate tax, but that the wind credit has not yet come before the conference.

“It’s definitely come up in personal conversations with the leadership team and with [House Ways and Means Chairman] Dave Camp [R-Mich.] — between myself and them — but as far as in front of the conference and gauging support for that within the conference, nothing official,” Noem said in a brief interview after the meeting.

The fate of the PTC and other energy-related extenders — for alternative fuels, home weatherization and efficient appliances, among others — has been closely tied to broader negotiations over the fiscal cliff. Noem said those extenders still could be included in a “comprehensive” fiscal cliff deal but “probably wouldn’t happen” in the bill Boehner plans to bring up this week.

“I don’t see any of those details being in that bill. Speaker Boehner expressed the fact that he wanted it to be a clean bill that had a possibility of going to the Senate and really getting agreement on it,” Noem said. “He felt like the more we put into that, the tougher that would be. So it would have to be part of his agreement with the president.”

Boehner said he remained hopeful that his ongoing negotiations with President Obama could produce a broader agreement that included spending cuts and tax increases, but he said it was prudent to have a backup plan to shield as many taxpayers as possible from paying more when the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the beginning of the year. He said he would be willing to accept $1 trillion in new tax revenue in exchange for $1 trillion in spending reductions as part of a broader deal.

The Plan B bill could include an alternative minimum tax patch and deal with the estate tax, Boehner said, but it would not deal with the sequester.

The White House was quick to reject Boehner’s proposal as inadequate, while stressing that the “parameters of a deal are clear” and that Obama remained committed to the negotiations.

“But he is not willing to accept a deal that doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement released just after Boehner’s news conference ended. “The Speaker’s ‘Plan B’ approach doesn’t meet this test because it can’t pass the Senate and therefore will not protect middle class families, and does little to address our fiscal challenges with zero spending cuts.”