A tax-extenders package passed out of the Senate Finance Committee earlier this summer with bipartisan support and the modest expectation that it might lay the groundwork for tax reform.
That was then. But, as our colleagues at National Journal Daily report, "it turns out that politics intrudes on all legislation, even if it's originally billed as bipartisan."
So what's the holdup? Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus thinks the tax-extenders package should be passed before the election because "they mean a lot to a lot of people." Ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch says his party would prefer to handle tax extenders, including the alternative minimum patch, along with the Bush-era tax cuts.
Nancy Cook explains:
The Democrats and White House would love to pass the tax-extender package (and its extension of the alternative-minimum patch) so that it's no longer a tool to negotiate over in the fiscal cliff.
The Republicans are going to use the AMT patch as leverage to try to prod the Democrats to extend the upper-income tax breaks.
As one former chief economist for the House Ways and Means Committee put it, "A lot of the optimism going into that markup seems to have withered."
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