Lawmakers on Tax-Writing Panel Keep Constituents in Mind
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democrats and Republicans may be at each others’ throats on most issues, but they are finding common cause on the House tax-writing committee in delivering tax breaks for their constituents.
Lawmakers of both parties, acting virtually as lobbyists, took turns Tuesday appealing for various tax changes before a receptive Ways and Means Committee.
It was a scenario that contrasted sharply with the partisan sniping on the House floor. Democrats scolded the GOP for limiting debate on a foreign aid bill _ a day after lawmakers squabbled over the seating of Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Greg Laughlin on the Ways and Means panel.
But in the tax-writing panel’s ornate, high-ceilinged hearing room, Laughlin, a Texan, took his seat without incident and the work went forward.
Rep. Barbara Kennelly, D-Conn., pushed for a new kind of enterprise zone to benefit financial service centers such as Hartford, sometimes called the nation’s insurance capital.
Enterprise zones currently offer tax breaks for manufacturers locating in job-starved inner cities. That’s fine, as far as it goes, according to Kennelly, but it doesn’t do much for Hartford, which endured the collapse of the New England real estate market and associated bank failures earlier in the decade and now is seeing a wave of insurance company mergers.
She, along with Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., from Manhattan, is proposing enterprise zones with such tax breaks geared to non-manufacturing companies as wage credits for new jobs and improved writeoffs for office renovation and computer purchases.
Among the other proposals:
_Rep. William Goodling, R-Pa., sought a change in tax accounting rules that would help a home builder in his district finance purchases by cash-strapped buyers.
Barry Rauhauser of York, Pa., had lent home purchasers their 20 percent down payment, but the tax code required him to calculate his profits by treating the down payment as if he had received it all at once, rather than what it is, in effect, an installment payment plan.
_Rep. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. _ backed by Laughlin _ requested that farmers forced to sell livestock because of heavy rains and flooding get the same tax relief as livestock producers hit by drought. He proposes that livestock producers be able to defer gain on weather-induced sales for up to two years, allowing them to rebuild their herds without tax penalty.
_Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Peter Blute, R-Mass., want to help commercial fishing boat owners in their state by restoring their exemption from paying Social Security payroll taxes for their crew members, regarded by boat owners as self-employed and thus responsible for remitting their own payroll taxes.
Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, aims to include some of the miscellaneous tax breaks in the massive tax and spending bill Congress will consider this fall. But he cautioned his panel that ``we are here to clean up the code and fix some of its counterproductive and complicated provisions. We are not here to create new or additional loopholes.″