Sequester Noise Drowning Out Concerns for Sandy Tax Relief & WOTC . . . for Now

You may appreciate this recent update from Paul Suplizio, President of the WOTC Coalition.  Paul reviews recent political exchanges and developments in connection with the sequester and observes how the sequester fight is drawing attention away from other important matters such as Hurricane Sandy tax relief.
You might recall, one form of tax relief under consideration for Hurricane Sandy victims is an expanded Work Opportunity Tax Credit for areas affected by the storm.
The following is published here with permission.
Subject: Both Sides Showing Their Hands in Sequester Fight, But No Sandy Aid
From: Paul Suplizio
Date: Wed, February 27, 2013 10:55 pm
February 27, 2013
On Monday, Senator Reid brought to the floor the Democrats anti-sequester bill, S. 388, the “American Family Economic Protection Act of 2013.” The bill defers the sequester by substituting major tax hikes and spending cuts hitting wealthy taxpayers, outsourcers, oil companies, and direct subsidy payments to farmers. Text of S.388 is available at .
Today, Senator McConnell introduced the Senate Republicans’ reply, S. 16, dubbed “a smarter way to replace the sequester,” the product of a studious effort on the part of the Appropriations Committee’s professional staff to find ways of cutting $85 billion in FY 2013, but lessening the damage imposed by across-the-board cuts by allowing certain budget accounts to escape cuts in part or entirety, while giving Cabinet secretaries and agency heads limited discretion to move funds from lower to higher priority accounts.
The McConnell approach, if successful, would blunt some of the dire consequences the President and Democrats have been portraying for the sequester. But now both Senate leaders have dug themselves into a position from which it will be difficult for them to move—and they will carry these positions into the White House meeting of congressional leaders and the President on Friday to try to fix things.
To make matters worse, tomorrow there will be two cloture votes in the Senate, first on the McConnell bill and then on the Reid measure; there’s little doubt both will fail to muster 60 votes, so Senate leaders will be walking into the White House Friday with their immovable positions publicly paraded.
In a breakthrough, House Republicans have begun to coalesce around the bill offered by Chairman Mike Rogers of the House Appropriations Committee, which takes the same approach as the McConnell measure and which anticipated the McConnell measure by months. House Leaders spent all Wednesday sounding their caucus on the Rogers approach, and some members are commenting favorably as they think it will turn the tables on the President.
This is no small matter, since by granting flexibility in making cuts, Rogers/McConnell can be attacked for delegating to the President some portion of congressional powers to appropriate. House supporters of Rogers seem to be saying they are ready to make that concession so long as they get $85 billion in cuts.
The Rogers bill began as an Omnibus Appropriations measure for the remainder of FY 2013—this bill, or something like it, must be passed by March 27th or the government will have to shut down. As various congress people began to view it seriously, and so commenced mangling it, the bill is now converted from an Omnibus specifying budget authority for every account, to a Continuing Resolution specifying guidance for applying cuts to various accounts, so priority needs will be funded but total cuts will still come to $85 billion.
We will learn tomorrow whether Speaker Boehner will bring the House into play by adopting the Rogers approach. If he does, this means Cantor, Ryan, and the Republican Study Group (the organ of the far right) are on board, and Boehner will go into the White House meeting with a constructive position—as the saying goes, you can’t beat something with nothing. Then the White House talks will canvass who has the smarter approach—McConnell/Boehner or the President/Reid/Pelosi.
Both the Rogers and McConnell measures avert the sequester and fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, preventing a shutdown—we will soon learn how far the President will move: right now he wants the $85 billion in cuts deferred, and his own budget for Defense and civilian agencies enacted for the remainder of the fiscal year, plus more tax revenues.
Hurricane Sandy tax relief hasn’t been re-introduced in the 113th Congress, thus the best statement of the relief provisions sought—patterned after Katrina tax relief—remains H.R. 6683 (112th Congress), “Hurricane Sandy Tax Relief Act of 2012,” introduced last December 13th by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). The bill extends WOTC to employers and job-seekers in the Hurricane Sandy disaster area, and has a long list of backers.
Unfortunately, the passions aroused by the sequester have blotted out serious thought of Sandy by key deciders at the moment, but the need to put tax relief into law so people hit by the hurricane will know what their tax rights are when they replace a damaged building or hire a new worker—that need will still be there.
President, WOTC Coalition

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