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Tax-deduction extension left unfinished: Who’s to blame?

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Sep. 30, 2010 at 10:19 am |
September 30, 2010 2:14 pm

UPDATE: See Les Blumenthal’s full story out of D.C.

Congress will adjourn until after election day with some unfinished business – including a detail that’s very dear to Washingtonians: continuation of the sales tax deduction for sales tax dependent states. This isn’t the first time that the extension has been stalled, and it usually plays out that our delegation comes through in the end and gets it inserted. But this year, in the midst of a heated Senate race between Sen. Patty Murray and Dino Rossi, the issue has become campaign fodder.

Murray’s camp says her efforts to broker a deal – including a compromise offered last night – were thwarted by the GOP. From her floor speech:

“I reached across the aisle to bring forward a compromise bill that would help families in Washington state—and that Senate Republicans had agreed to just two nights ago—but they stood up and said no.

“I was willing to do whatever it took tonight to get this sales tax deduction extended for Washington state families, but Senate Republicans refused to put politics aside and give an inch.

“I am going to keep fighting to get this done, but I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans continue to treat this issue as an election year game when families across my home state of Washington are counting on us to get something done.”

Rossi’s camp says it’s Murray who’s been stubborn and blasts her for heading out on the campaign trail without passing a continuation of the Bush tax cuts or the sales-tax deduction.

Jennifer Morris, Rossi’s campaign communications director, fired off this e-mail last night:

Sen. Murray just attempted to pass a bill to extend sales tax deductibility which no one has read. She claims it’s similar to the bill offered by Sen. Barrasso on Monday night, but, again, no one has seen the bill, save a few Democrats. If Sen. Murray was serious about her proposal to extend sales tax deductibility, she would have offered it BEFORE the Senate adjourned. She would have offered it BEFORE her colleagues left town. She would have let members read it BEFORE she proposed passing it.

Can you say election year politics by a desperate incumbent?

Read the full press releases after the jump.

SALES TAX DEDUCTION: MURRAY COMPROMISE BLOCKED BY SENATE REPUBLICANS

Murray offered compromise that Senate Republicans supported two days earlier—killed by Senate Republicans on floor

Watch Senator Murray offer compromise bill, Republicans object (scroll to bottom)

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray went to the floor of the U.S Senate to make a final attempt at brokering a bi-partisan compromise on the extension of the critical sales tax deduction before the Senate recessed through November. Murray has been working for months to pass this legislation, and her most recent attempt was blocked by Senate Republicans last Thursday .

Today, Murray offered a stand-alone one-year extension of the sales tax deduction that was based on the same bill that Senate Republicans had offered on Monday, but Senate Republicans led by Senator John Thune (R-SD) objected.

Senator Murray issued the following statement after Republican blocked her compromise bill:

“This display by Senate Republicans is partisan politics and political gamesmanship at its absolute worst.

“I reached across the aisle to bring forward a compromise bill that would help families in Washington state—and that Senate Republicans had agreed to just two nights ago—but they stood up and said no.

“I was willing to do whatever it took tonight to get this sales tax deduction extended for Washington state families, but Senate Republicans refused to put politics aside and give an inch.

“I am going to keep fighting to get this done, but I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans continue to treat this issue as an election year game when families across my home state of Washington are counting on us to get something done.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech offering the compromise follows:

“M. President, I have been working hard over the past few months to extend the critical sales tax deduction for families and small businesses in my home state of Washington.

“I know how important this is to middle class families in my state—and I have heard from so many of them about how vital it is that this deduction be extended.

“But every time we brought forward a bill that would help these families, Republicans would band together to block it.

“They would stand here on this floor and say they objected to the way we paid for this deduction.

“Or they would say they didn’t like some of the other tax cut extensions we included in the bill.

“They would give different reasons each time, but they refused to come to the table with real solutions for this serious issue facing middle class families.

“M. President, I urged Senate Republicans to change their minds.

“But again and again they blocked these common-sense tax cut extensions.

“Finally, M. President—on Monday night, Senate Republicans came forward with a proposal.

“Their bill came at the 11th hour and it stripped away all of the other tax credits that would help families, clean energy companies, and small businesses.

“So Senator Baucus objected to it, because he wanted to focus on a tax cut extension bill we had been working on for months that already had the support of the majority of the Senate.

“But extending the sales tax deduction is too important to Washington state families to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

“So over the last two days I talked to my colleagues about this.

“I made sure they understood that this issue is about more than the political back-and-forth here in D.C.—it’s about real people back in my home state of Washington….

“It’s about removing a bias in the tax code that is fundamentally unfair to our families….

“And it’s about putting more money in their pockets at a time when they could use all the help they can get.

“So M. President—I am here to say that after these conversations with my colleagues on the Democratic side, they have agreed to set aside their objections and allow the sales tax deduction extension to pass today.

“Because this issue shouldn’t be controversial, and the livelihoods of middle class families shouldn’t be used as a political football in election year games.

“So in a few minutes I will ask unanimous consent to pass a bill that pulls the sales tax exemption out of the legislation we had it in before, which will allow it to stand alone, and is what Republicans offered to pass on Monday night.

“With one small compromise— and it is so close to the version Republicans offered on Monday night that I cannot imagine they would object to it now.

“Rather than the permanent extension that I and so many others would prefer, this bill would extend the sales tax exemption for one year, offering greater stability and confidence for middle class families in these tough times.

“I believe this is a reasonable compromise. And I believe it can and should pass here today.

“M. President—I was proud to work with my colleagues to put politics aside and advance this proposal that will help people and solve problems for Washington state families.

“And I really hope Republicans are truly interested in helping families more than playing political games, and that they don’t come up with a new reason to object to this bill tonight.”

TO: The Fourth Estate
FROM: Jennifer Morris, Rossi for Senate Communications Director

RE: Quiz Time! The Things That Make You Go “Hmm” Edition

For all of you glued to C-SPAN2 (like I am), it’s quiz time:

1. This evening, Senator Murray voted to adjourn the Senate BEFORE extending critical tax relief for Washingtonians, namely sales tax deductibility and extension of the 2001/2003 tax relief. True or False?

2. Senator Murray allowed fellow Democrats to object to a bill on Monday night which would PERMANENTLY extend sales tax deductibility for Washington State residents and the residents of six other states. True or False?

3. Senator Murray tried to bring up a bill tonight, which no one has seen (except for maybe Senate Democrats), and expected the Senate to pass it sight unseen AFTER the Senate had already adjourned. True or False?

4. Senator Murray thinks it’s ok for Senators to pass legislation they haven’t read. True or False?

If you who answered TRUE to every question, go to the head of the class.

For those of you don’t think of CSPAN2 as must see tv, Sen. Murray just attempted to pass a bill to extend sales tax deductibility which no one has read. She claims it’s similar to the bill offered by Sen. Barrasso on Monday night, but, again, no one has seen the bill, save a few Democrats. If Sen. Murray was serious about her proposal to extend sales tax deductibility, she would have offered it BEFORE the Senate adjourned. She would have offered it BEFORE her colleagues left town. She would have let members read it BEFORE she proposed passing it.

Can you say election year politics by a desperate incumbent?

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