Tags: Juliano | Bade | Congress | bill

Reporters Give Outlook for Energy and Tax Policy

By    |   Wednesday, 07 January 2015 08:04 AM

Nick Juliano, a correspondent for Environment and Energy News, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Jan. 6 to talk about the outlook for energy policy in the 114th Congress that was sworn in this week.

The state of global energy markets has been moving the stock market lately, as investors scramble to react to prices once thought to be secure at $100 a barrel have plummeted to the vicinity of $50 a barrel.

Juliano was interviewed by host John McArdle, who asked why the Republicans picked energy as their kick-off issue for the new Congress. Juliano replied that the intention is to move a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline as soon as next week because it was a big issue throughout the campaign, and Republicans argue that it would create jobs and secure American energy independence with the help of our Canadian ally. Some opponents will now argue that the price of oil has fallen so far that Canadian tar sand oil is no longer economical.

Asked what's next after Keystone, Juliano listed bills left over from the last Congress, including a House bill to ease permitting for natural gas pipelines; another House bill to enable exports of liquified natural gas, likely to pass in the next couple weeks that has a companion in the Senate; and a comprehensive energy bill under consideration since 2007 that the respective energy chairs, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., plan to promote.

McArdle pursued the observation he made in another interview that the appointment of Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a climate skeptic, to chair the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is likely to affect the debate on environmental issues. Juliano said this will heighten the visibility of the administration's policy but also be used by Democrats to argue more strenuously that this is another example of Republican denial of the science of climate change.

Later C-SPAN's Greta Wodele Brawner interviewed Politico's Rachael Bade to ask about prospects for new tax committee leadership "to tackle the tax code." Bade acknowledged that there would be "a lot of chatter" about this in coming months, but she declared herself "skeptical" as to the prospects for results, and she clearly explained why.

She pointed out that just two years ago, the chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees jointly announced that they were going to produce reform of both business and personal tax laws and that House Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, had designated the first bill, H.R. 1, as the vehicle. While Bade didn't mention this, both chairmen were going to retire, so this could have provided both incentive to produce a legacy and relief from any political distractions.

Perhaps this very factor ultimately worked against the bill, because, as Bade noted, once then-Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., introduced his bill, a classic combination of "base broadening" and "rate reduction," industry lobbies started a campaign against it, Republicans turned against the bill and the House never even voted on it.

Asked about the new leaders, Bade credited Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as well-liked and respected enough that he might be able to build support for a bill and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as having a strong staff, but she advised viewers to keep in mind a third player, President Obama, and she compared the circumstance to the support President Reagan gave to tax legislation in 1986. Obama does not support a revenue-neutral package but instead says he plans to raise taxes on the wealthy.

However, the president might be open to a revenue-neutral bill for corporate taxes alone. Bade doubted that a year is long enough to get the parties together, and she cautioned further that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has opposed a separate corporate tax bill and wants to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of any tax package.

This writer, always cynical regarding tax legislation, would point out two other factors to consider. One is that more than any other legislation, tax legislation is heavily driven by staff, and even Bade referred in passing to the formidable staff at Senate Finance. Thus, a great deal of work can be done without the need to assemble the principals. Also there is the potential x factor of Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council, who seems poised to lead an effort.

(Archived video can be found here and here.)

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Nick Juliano, a correspondent for Environment and Energy News, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Jan. 6 to talk about the outlook for energy policy in the 114th Congress that was sworn in this week.
Juliano, Bade, Congress, bill
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 08:04 AM
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