Did Romney Torpedo Bipartisan Wind Tax Credit Deal?

The Romney presidential campaign on Monday came out firmly against the production tax credit for wind power, and if the Washington scuttlebutt is to believed, that stand torpedoed a bipartisan agreement that could have extended the PTC past its end-of-year expiration date.

The New York Times, citing Senate Finance Committee sources, is reporting today that after “hard-fought” negotiations had apparently brought agreement on a package of business tax breaks that included the wind tax credit, Senate Republicans suddenly removed the PTC “to show their loyalty to presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

Romney wind power PTC

image via Romney for President

On Monday, a spokesman for Romney’s campaign in Iowa had told the Des Moines Register that Romney “will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits.”

Congressional Democrats and President Obama have been strong advocates for the tax credit, as have a number of Republicans, particularly in states where wind power has been a jobs booster – like Iowa and Colorado. But despite having what qualifies in Washington these days as bipartisan support, efforts by wind power proponents to extend the credit beyond its Dec. 31 expiration have stalled in the Senate, where the requirement of 60 votes to pass legislation has proved insurmountable.

The credit, worth 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power produced, generally has run for two years but hasn’t been allowed to expire since 2004.

Every time the tax credit has expired, the wind industry has gone into virtual hibernation – and that’s the forecast again from the American Wind Energy Association. It says 37,000 jobs could be lost if the PTC doesn’t gain an extension, and soon.

Romney himself was overseas on Monday when the news broke that he was lining up solidly against the PTC for wind, but it caused a big stir, and today’s news out of Washington suggests it could continue to ripple through the presidential campaign.

In a Politco story today, Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, said the exclusion of the PTC this week was unrelated to Romney’s position. He also suggested Romney’s stance on the PTC might be squishier than the campaign made it out to be, with support for a phase-out, instead of an immediate expiration, possible.

“Almost everybody admits that if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to phase it out,” he said. “I don’t know of anybody who objected to that concept, and I think that might be more consistent with Mitt Romney’s feelings.”

According to the Times, the PTC might still survive the reported contretemps caused by Romney’s opposition. The paper said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) “has pledged to put the credit back when the committee takes up the plan … (and) ultimately, even Republicans believe he will prevail.”

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

    • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

       

      Is there any doubt that a Romney administration would favor
      the rich and increase the income gap in our country?  Mitt is a pariah in Mormon Clothing and will
      stop at nothing to expand an empire of greed for the rich in this country.  Can his sacred Mormon underwear gain him
      enough donations to buy this election? 
      See for yourself as Mitt dons his tighty-whities from the Good Lord
      Himself at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/05/mitt-romneys-magic-mormon-underwear.html

      • Vulcanalex

         The rich benefit from the wind credit when they invest in wind ventures that would not create profit without it.  Eliminating it is getting rid of tax preferences that the rich use, not buying votes with our taxes.

      • Judith Shea

        What about LA? Bobby Brown gets off his 3rd dui charge because he is a cool hollywood star.

        He was released Wednesday after serving nine hours of his 55-day jail sentence for driving under the influence.
        http://zautos.com/bobby-brown-serves-nine-hours-in-jail-for-third-dui/
        L.A. County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told the media that Brown was released early due to jail overcrowding and good behavior. A representative for the R&B singer said he is at home with his family.

        I don’t see you complain about that. Only when republicans get something.

        They all cheat us.

    • Vulcanalex

      This is another example of Mitt not pandering for votes and using our tax dollars to buy votes.  If wind is to succeed local or states need to require it and allow the users to pay for it.  If we had surplus I could accept these and many other nice programs with deficit they all need to go.  We just can’t afford them.

      • Meleamen

        ok – that’s cool – then lets get rid of all the tax credits you  give to the oil industry that makes billions every year. tell me what sense that makes

    • Terry

      ? this has been one of the few programs that is a bipartisan program.  There are some things that we have to continue to spend tax dollars on.  If we are going to continue to compete with the rest of the world we need wind and must continue to develop underwater turbine technology as well.  i don’t see this a something we can’t afford but something that we can’t afford not to continue with.