Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Down to the wire on the AMT

Tax Notes Today ($) reports that the Senate hopes to get to the AMT patch before the Christmas recess (which I think may start next week). This is the wildest game of chicken I've ever seen. Here's Majority Leader Harry Reid:
Reid told reporters that the Senate would take up a temporary AMT patch and so-called extenders package "as soon as we can," and added there were "a lot of balancing balls." Reid also took issue with what he characterized as GOP obstructionism and blamed the delay in action on AMT relief on the Republicans' "57 filibusters."
I'm sorry, but I don't see how earlier filibusters on other legislation caused the House Ways and Means Committee to delay beginning work on the AMT patch until November. That was rank irresponsibility, and no one has called them on it, or apparently will. Congress has put itself in a box on this, because they will want credit for handing out a tax cut when what they are really doing is preventing a tax increase, one that will fall hardest in the bluest states.

Here's a bit of refreshing common sense about the AMT:
"I think most Republicans would like to repeal the whole thing, period, without paying for it. Why would you want to have to raise taxes on somebody else in order to discontinue a kind of phantom levy that we've been preventing from going into effect every year anyway and never intend to collect?"
That's from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Too bad he didn't exhibit that same common sense when he was in the majority.

UPDATE: The Senate will evidently be in session until December 21. Republicans are predicting that an AMT patch without offsets will pass in the Senate, which means it has to go back for passage in the House, or there has to be a Conference to iron out differences.

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