Must Everything Old Be New Again?

Wyden’s extenders bill is set for a vote tomorrow. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden  and senior Republican  Orrin Hatch introduced the EXPIRE Act (“Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act”) yesterday. The committee will consider it on Thursday. The measure would kill a few of the expired tax subsidies but restore most through 2015. The Joint Committee on Taxation calculates the measure would add $67.4 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

Camp’s retirement and prospects for tax reform. House Ways & Means chair Dave Camp deserves thanks for crafting a serious, detailed and transparent tax reform plan, as TPC’s Howard Gleckman reminds readers. But will anyone pick up the bat and ball after Camp heads for the dugout?

How about the House Budget Committee Chair? Contender for the Ways & Means chairmanship Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled “The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget” yesterday. Tax reform takes up about 2.5 percent of the document, and the fiscal plan merely calls for a tax code that is simple, fair, and more competitive. That sort of generic call for reform is the fiscal equivalent of standing at home plate and never even swinging. As TPC’s Howard Gleckman writes, it’s understandable given the current state of GOP politics, but it’s still disappointing.

What’s the prognosis for the U.S. corporate income tax? Not good, but TPC’s Eric Toder and the American Enterprise Institute’s Alan Viard will present two possible treatments on April 4. “Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the Corporate Income Tax,” a conference cosponsored by The American Enterprise Institute and TPC, will also give Marty Sullivan of Tax Analysts and Pam Olson of PricewaterhouseCoopers an opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both options. Register to attend here.

EPA may open the door to state carbon taxes. The Environmental Protection Agency may propose a rule in June that would make it possible for states to impose carbon taxes on manufacturers and other firms that burn fossil fuels. Adele Morris of the Brookings Institution thinks it could be a win-win for states and much more efficient than old-style regulation.      

How does minimum-wage income vary across states? The TPC’s latest Tax Facts offers “A Comparison of State Minimum Wages.” There’s variation, to be sure, but the District of Columbia’s plus 21 states’ minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. And “of the 74 million employees paid an hourly wage in 2011, 3.8 million, or 5.2 percent, were paid the federal minimum or less.”

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