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On Tax Extenders, Republican Promises Ring Hollow

When Paul Ryan accepted the gavel as Speaker of the House, he stated:

“Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.”

Yet it didn’t take long for those words to ring hollow, as the Republicans are again in the midst of a backroom deal that will benefit those with the least amount of power in Washington.

Republican leadership is reportedly on the verge of giving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid a deal to revive and extend the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), among other expired tax provisions, for five years in exchange for lifting the 1970s-era ban on most crude-oil exports.

This is a terrible deal for the American people. Republicans are right to fight for oil exports, but would be foolish to accept a deal that delivers one good policy—lifting the oil export ban—in exchange for a number of bad ones, including the PTC; and possibly, the President’s $3 billion Green Climate Fund.

The oil-export ban is a relic of a bygone era that should end. Numerous studies show that allowing oil exports would lower gasoline prices for families, boost domestic oil production, and enhance U.S. energy security.

Meanwhile, the wind PTC is corporate welfare for the wind industry and a crown jewel for Reid and Obama. In fact, just this morning Sen. Reid issued an ultimatum to Republicans: “take yes for an answer” on the PTC or lose oil exports.

Republican leadership and the oil industry, spearheaded by API, seem to have blinders on when it comes to lifting the oil export ban. If their goal is to ensure that Americans have access to reliable and affordable energy, then this deal would be a major failure.

The benefits of lifting the oil export ban are not worth the price tag. Proponents of lifting the export ban should have condemned this horse-trading from the beginning. Instead, the Republicans are now faced with a laundry list of demands from the Obama administration and the Democrats that would increase the size of government.

Unfortunately, Republicans appear ready to give Democrats just about anything they want. For example, Sens. Carper and Markey are trying to add a tax credit for northeastern refiners, which the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers rejected as “a proposal that pits one segment of the refining industry against another.” You heard that right—Senator Ed Markey is shilling for northeastern oil refiners. There are even talks of Congress authorizing $3 billion for Obama’s “Green Climate Fund,” the slush fund of the Paris climate summit that Republicans previously vowed to block.

Republicans should reject these strong-arm tactics and remember the promises they made to their constituents to fight the Democrats’ and the Obama administration’s anti-energy agenda. The wind PTC is a massive wealth transfer from taxpayers to large corporations like General Electric, who lobbied hard for a PTC extension. It also advances the Obama administration’s carbon regulation, which, as the president promised, will make electricity prices skyrocket. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed he would, “keep doing everything I can to fight them [the administration]” over this regulation.

Oil exports would reduce gasoline prices for families and increase U.S. energy security, while the wind PTC raises energy prices and makes our power grid less dependable. Lifting the ban is sensible policy that deserves to pass on its own merits, instead of being traded in a backroom deal with Democrat leadership—especially not for the wind PTC.

Swapping oil exports for tax extenders and giving in to other demands from the green lobby would be one step forward and several steps backward. Republicans should not let their support for oil exports blind them to the harm of corporate wind welfare.

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