Partisan debate over the distributional effect of legislation granting a 20-percent tax cut for certain businesses threatened to derail consideration of the Small Business Tax Cut Bill (HR 9) before the House Ways and Means Committee on March 28. The committee stalled during its markup of the measure, which was introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to mark the upcoming 2012 tax filing deadline of April 17. However, debate flared as Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., questioned Joint Committee on Taxation Chief Thomas A. Barthold in a way that attempted to highlight how broadly written the tax measure is and how it would grant unnecessary tax breaks to entertainers and sports franchises as well as hedge fund managers, abortion providers and pornographers.
During his turn to ask questions, Rep. Geoff Davis, D-Calif., stated that concern over illicit activities such as prostitution and drugs must be because that member’s district is full of those activities. The ensuing shouting match between members and hastily called procedural maneuvers led to a 45-minute recess, followed by Davis stating for the record that his comments were not directed at a particular member. The measure ultimately passed on a party-line vote of 21 to 14.
Democrats on the panel sought to portray GOP lawmakers as being primarily interested in passing debt-financed tax cuts that primarily benefited wealthy business owners. Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., however, said that small business owners need cash now in order to expand their businesses, buy new equipment and hire new employees. Under the bill, any U.S. business with up to 500 employees would get a tax cut equal to 20 percent of their active business income, regardless of whether they are organized as sole proprietorships, C corporations, S corporations or limited liability companies. The $45.9-billion legislation contains no revenue increases or spending cuts to offset its cost. During the bill’s introduction, Cantor said House GOP lawmakers planned to identify spending cuts for the measure.
By Stephen K. Cooper, CCH News Staff
Ways and Means Press Release: Camp Opening Statement
Ways and Means Press Release: Levin Opening Statement