The White House wants the Senate's $85 billion tax extenders bill amended so that it does not add to the deficit, but stopped short of issuing a veto threat Tuesday.
“The Administration supports the extension of many of the tax provisions in the Senate bill, such as those that support America’s small businesses, help unemployed veterans find jobs, and promote clean energy production and research and development," said Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for the White House. "The President in his budget has put forward a way to pay for these tax provisions so they don’t add to the deficit and hopes that as legislation moves forward, Congress will offset their cost by closing tax loopholes.”
Whithorne's statement, however, does not include a threat to veto the bill — either over the deficit or the lack of an unemployment extension — another priority for the White House.
A presidential veto threat would have amounted to picking a fight with his own party in the middle of an election year with the Senate Democratic majority very much in danger. But that no longer appears in the cards.
Because the Senate bill is another temporary patch, it wouldn't permanently alter the Congressional Budget Office baseline for revenue — a key consideration for the White House and Senate Democrats as both parties eye potential tax reform negotiations after the elections.
Still, deficit hawks inside and outside of Congress have slammed the bill for adding to the deficit by resurrecting more than 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013 for another two years.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has repeatedly slammed the bill as a budget-buster filled with tax loopholes for NASCAR and assorted other industries . Ironically, the bill will result in lower revenue than House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's spending blueprint, which Democrats have repeatedly criticized for not closing corporate loopholes to shrink the deficit.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Monday that he was prepared to force a separate vote related to increasing the deficit on the tax cut package, which violates pay-as-you-go rules and the two-year bipartisan budget agreed to last year because it adds to the deficit.
But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was effusive in his praise for the bill.
"Today, the Senate begins debate on legislation that continues to help many Nevadans and countless Americans, as they recover from the recession. This bill extends current tax provisions that have bolstered American families and businesses, saving money and growing our economy," Reid said on the Senate floor.
He noted the mortgage forgiveness tax break and the tax deduction for sales taxes — both key for Nevada — along with other tax breaks, including ones for renewable energy, theatrical productions, research and development, and teachers' expenses, among others.
"We will not pull the plug before our nation’s recovery is complete," Reid said. "By passing this tax extenders package, we will continue to build up our nation’s economy. We will continue to promote innovation, encourage industry, and create jobs. I urge Republicans to join Senate Democrats in passing this legislation. Let’s work together to continue giving American families and the economy a fair shot at recovery."
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