The tax bill currently winding its way through the Senate presents the perfect opportunity for Republicans to demonstrate whether they learned anything from the last election and the Tea Party phenomenon.
Whatever one’s stand on the expiring Bush era income tax cuts, there are other provisions in this bill that merit removal.
First, the death tax should be buried, not resurrected. The super wealthy, those supposedly targeted by the death tax can afford the kind of estate planning necessary to allow them to avoid paying most, if not all estate taxes. However, this tax kills small businesses and – since I work on environmental issues – is bad for the environment because it leads to the chopping up and down sizing or small private forests. As detailed in a paper the NCP A wrote a few years ago, many private forest owners are land rich but cash poor, so when their heirs inherit, they have to sell forests that they cherish, and many times, forests that have been in the family for generations, just to pay the taxes. Forests become tract homes and shopping malls so Uncle Sam can collect a second time on wealth accumulated and taxed previously.
Second, the GOP should not allow the tax bill to be laden with all sorts of ancillary special interests projects. The rumor is extension of the tax cuts will be tied, in part, to an extension of all manner of tax credits, grants and outright giveaway’s to renewable energy manufacturers, installers and producers. This includes tax credits for one of the biggest boondoggles of all – ethanol. NCPA scholars, including myself, have written on a number of occasions on why tax breaks and forced government payments for ethanol production is bad for the environment and bad for energy security. Even Al Gore has seen the light on this one and come out against continuing the government’s ethanol program.
That’s not all, however, under the guise of producing green jobs and funding renewable energy, other grants, subsidies and mandates are extended for wind, solar, geothermal and other less reliable, more expensive energy sources. These subsidies kill more jobs than they create. And in a time when people are demanding the Government live within its means (as the last election seemed to indicate they are) and reduce the deficit, these programs should end. Government should treat all energy sources equally and stop subsidizing all of them. Then only those sources of energy that can compete in the marketplace will survive. I trust the decisions of millions of investors and consumers far more than I trust government to decide what energy I should use to heat and light my home or fuel my car. If it was a good idea, the government wouldn’t have to force us to buy it – after all, this isn’t a public good like national defense.