Norquist group backs Senate plan to revive tax breaks

Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform said Monday that it backed a Senate plan to revive dozens of expired tax breaks.

The ATR acknowledged that the Senate proposal on the provisions commonly known as "tax extenders" included some preferences they oppose, including a production tax credit prized by the wind industry and other green energy incentives.

But the group, which oversees a pledge against raising taxes signed by most GOP lawmakers, said the good far outweighed the bad in the plan, which the Senate is considering this week. The positives, the ATR said, include preferences that allow businesses to write off investments more quickly, and the research and development credit.

"For these reasons, warts and all, the Senate should pass the tax extenders bill," wrote Ryan Ellis of the ATR. 

"Ideally, the best of these tax relief items would be made permanent law, and the rest would be plowed into pro-growth tax reform. For now, though, the mandate for the Senate is clear: do no harm."

The ATR's support for the tax extenders package isn't much of a surprise, given that the group has historically opposed allowing tax breaks to expire. The group also has backed the House's efforts to extend preferences like the research credit indefinitely.

But the move does underscore the split among conservatives over tax extenders and the broader division among Republicans who consider themselves pro-business and pro-market. The Club for Growth, for instance, publicly opposes the Senate plan, calling it a "special-interest orgy."

Some GOP senators have said they would seek to add amendments to the legislation, such as a repeal of the medical device tax from the Affordable Care Act.

But Ellis cautioned senators against backing amendments to strike tax breaks for business write-offs, insisting they "be careful about throwing out the pro-growth baby with the crony capitalist bathwater." 

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