Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (left) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (right) worked on the markup of what they called a "dress rehearsal" for broader tax reform.
The meeting was not without partisan acrimony that could foreshadow problems in the fall.
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the Democratic Conference Vice Chairman, brought forth what he jokingly called a “tiny little amendment” to extend a $2,500 tuition tax credit from the 2009 economic recovery law championed by President Barack Obama.
Schumer refrained from pushing his amendment to a vote, citing GOP opposition.
“Somehow, because it was in the stimulus bill, it has become a no-no,” he said.
Hatch responded that Senators need to take a broader look at how government intervention is raising the cost of a college education.
“I worked as a janitor to get through college,” Hatch said, acknowledging that at current tuition rates, that may not be practical. “We’ve got to look at all these transfer payments.”
Republicans also raised concerns about audit findings that some taxpayers were defrauding the program, claiming the tax credit for purposes other than tuition and textbooks.
“We want to work with you to eliminate the fraud,” Schumer said. “Who do you hold leaving the bag when you don’t renew this?”
Grassley predicted on Wednesday that if Schumer attempts to attach the tax credits from the stimulus law to the extenders bill on the floor, Republicans would reserve the right to respond with other tax amendments opposed by Democratic leadership.