OPINION: Don’t tie tax extenders bill to fiscal cliff

Source: By SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN, Politico • Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sen. Jeff Bingaman is shown. | Reuters

The tax extenders package has not received the attention it deserves, Bingaman writes. | Reuters

By SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN | 12/18/12 9:53 PM EST

Lost among the fiscal cliff debates on marginal tax rates and the sequester is a bipartisan package of important tax cuts that the House and the Senate should take up and pass immediately, regardless of whether Democrats and Republicans can reach a larger compromise.

I refer to a package of tax cuts passed earlier this year by the Senate Finance Committee, commonly referred to as the “tax extenders package,” which I feel has not received the attention it deserves as a major component of the fiscal cliff.

While I hope the negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff are successful, we should not wait for a “grand bargain” to materialize before we finish our work on tax extenders. Tax extenders are different from the other fiscal cliff issues.

First, tax extenders are much less contentious than the other end-of-year problems we must resolve; the package has bipartisan support. In August, the Senate Finance Committee approved the measure by a large margin, with “yes” votes from six Republicans, including the panel’s ranking member, and all 13 Democrats.

The bill consists entirely of tax cuts. Many of these tax cuts will help the economy, businesses and the middle class. For example, the bill includes an extension of the deduction for tuition expenses, an extension of the deduction for state and local sales taxes and an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, which has bipartisan support and will help create thousands of jobs.

The Production Tax Credit is a vital component of our nation’s energy policy, and its extension is crucial to take advantage of our domestic energy resources and foster a vibrant and globally competitive industry. In just the several short years that the wind industry has enjoyed certainty about the existence of the tax credit, wind installations have grown immensely, and manufacturing facilities — more than 400 at this point — have sprung up throughout the country. The U.S. now has more than 50,000 megawatts of wind capacity and the wind resources to grow the industry even further.