RENEWABLE ENERGY AND JOB CREATION TAX ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 26, 2008)
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Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I want to thank my colleague from Michigan.
Let me make a couple of points here. First of all, it's ironic that the argument by the Democrat majority on the floor today is one that says, you can't cut taxes unless you raise taxes and all this other discussion, when in 35 or 34 minutes, up in the House Rules Committee the Democrat majority is going to, I'm told, move a stimulus bill that spends tens and tens and tens of billions of dollars for which I believe there are no offsets. There's a little inconsistency here.
And for those of us from the West, that are home to the rural timbered counties where Federal land may equate to over half of our States and our districts, you want to talk about loss of jobs? Come to my district, where we have three counties of the 20 that are over 8 percent unemployment and have been. The mills have been closed. These are blue-collar jobs that have gone away because this Congress has failed to reauthorize--
Mr. PASCRELL. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I will in a second. I'm a little passionate on this, and then I'd be happy to yield.
Mr. PASCRELL. And so am I.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I'd love to have your help reauthorizing secure county roads and schools. It's in the Senate version of this legislation. The President has said he will sign that legislation, it can become law, and then our counties don't have to gut their sheriff's departments, their fire departments, their search and rescue departments. The libraries are closing. The school teachers have been fired.
It doesn't have to happen that way. The Senate has risen to the challenge and come forward with a way to do that.
Every time we have asked for help to reauthorize and fund this, this majority has figured out a way to deny that, other than one emergency extension.
We need your help on this. This is the time that if the previous question had been defeated, we could have offered an amendment to add it to this bill. This is the time that, if this bill went away, and we just took up the Senate bill when it got here, it could become law tomorrow and we could resolve this problem.
I've only got a few seconds here, but I'd be happy to yield.
Mr. PASCRELL. I would agree with much of what my friend just said, by the way. Your district did not invent unemployment. We have had unemployment in my district for at least 4 or 5 years. We've been trying to get our hands around that. It's not an easy thing to do. But, in conclusion, we want to pay for what we do.
Mr. NEAL of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I would like to yield 2 minutes to the gentlelady from Nevada, a fine member of the Ways and Means Committee, Ms. Berkley.
Ms. BERKLEY. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership on these important issues.
Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this bill to provide incentives for clean, renewable domestic energy production, to improve our energy security, and to extend provisions that provide vital tax relief to parents, teachers, college students, small businesses and millions of other middle class Americans.
The energy provisions in this bill will allow my home State of Nevada to become an even stronger leader in the field of renewable energy. In a State that has a renewable energy standard and sunshine almost every day of the year, our entrepreneurs are anxious to secure the 8 years of solar energy tax credits contained in this bill, while our public utilities will finally be able to claim that credit as well.
Instead of capping solar tax credits at $2,000 for residential property owners, this bill will allow home owners to recoup 30 percent of their solar energy installation costs as a tax credit.
Solar is just one renewable energy source in this bill. There's also tax credits for wind, geothermal and biomass. The time is long past due for these important tax credits to be extended.
This legislation also renews a number of expired individual and business tax credits, and will ensure that the residents of Nevada and other States that do not pay a State income tax are treated fairly and allowed to deduct State and local sales taxes instead.
It's also important to note that the tax relief in this bill is fully paid for and will not add a single dollar to the national debt. Now, that's good fiscal policy.
I urge support for this bill, and I urge the Senate and the President to do their part to enact this important legislation.
Mr. CAMP of Michigan. At this point, Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Oregon.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. I thank my colleague from Michigan for the time.
I want to make a couple of other points because I actually have legislation that would not only pay for a 10-year extension of these tax extenders and incent production of renewable energy, but would do much more, including fully fund county payments and fully fund payment in lieu of taxes by developing America's great energy reserves and using the royalties and the fees from the SEA Act, The Security and Energy for America Act, to actually pay for these things because I was a small business person for 21 years and 7 months, owned and operated a small company. I understand about paying taxes, and I understand about meeting budgets. And I have legislation that would accomplish both, but the majority won't allow it to even have a hearing.
So we're confronted today with legislation that only goes part way and doesn't deal with the biggest issue affecting Republicans and Democrats and Independents and school kids and people who are out in the woods. We have an enormous crisis in our Federal forests. We, the people in this House, are the stewards of those great lands. I've got half a million acres of Federal and private timber land that is ready to go up in fire in one of our national forests, Winema-Fremont, half a million acres. That's as big as the Biscuit Fire a few years ago. It's all bug infested and dead, and we need to get in there and work in it.
Reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools would help us do that, through the various titles.
You're going to spend $250 an acre to treat those lands. If you don't pass Secure Rural Schools and other legislation that would help us go in and treat it, you're going to spend $1,500 to $2,000 an acre to fight fire. And my good friend knows all about fighting fire. You get in and you prevent it.
This is why, for multiple reasons, not only for our kids, for law enforcement, for search and rescue, for libraries that are being closed, why can't this majority give us an opportunity to at least have a vote to reauthorize and fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act? It was bipartisan when it became law in 2000. Bill Clinton signed it into law.
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