An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that the House Ways and Means Committee is putting finishing touches on a tax package that would rescind tax breaks for big oil and use the revenue to provide incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Called the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, H.R. 5351 is a wide-ranging $17.5 billion renewable energy and building-efficiency bill is more inline with the Senate version of the bill produced last week. The changes mean that the bill is not much different from the one Democrats tried to push through at the end of 2007.
Even though Republicans have repeatedly blocked their efforts in the Senate, the Dems are relying on the same financing plan that produced Senate opposition last year, repealing tax breaks granted to oil and gas companies. That move begs this question: Is there any reason to believe that such legislation will pass this time? Yes.
But this time around, the Dems will need to win the battle over issue framing - especially when respected news outlets like the Associated Press are already leading off articles with sentences like:
"The House is going to make another run at imposing more than $17 billion in taxes on major oil companies."
Do not be fooled.
Republicans will undoubtedly raise a stink in opposition to the proposal, arguing that the U.S. should not be 'punishing' American companies that are developing our oil and gas reserves. But in the context of the current credit woes, the downturn in the housing market and general macro-economic slowing, Republicans should be careful about how they frame their opposition. Big oil is seeing record profits while millions of Americans are losing their homes or are in danger of losing them every month. In 2007, Exxon Mobil Corp.earned an astounding $40.6 billion, and Chevron Corp. reported a profit of $18.7 billion.
From the Dow Jones Newswire:
Under the bill, Congress would extend for three years, until Dec. 31, 2011, tax credits for investments in wind-power developments, geothermal and trash combustion facilities, and other projects that generate power from so-called renewable energy. For projects that get up and running starting in 2010, the total amount of tax credits that can be earned would be limited to 35% of a facility's costs. The measure is estimated to result in tax breaks of $6.57 billion over 10 years.
Congress would also extend for eight years, through the end of 2016, tax credits for commercial investments in solar-energy equipment. Congress would extend until the end of 2014 the tax credit for homeowners who buy solar panels or solar hot water heaters. The tax credit would also be more generous, doubling to $4,000 from $2,000.
Photo Credit: Bob Cox via flickr