TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma Republicans in the U.S. House are criticizing passage of legislation that supporters say would save more Americans, including more than 100,000 Oklahomans, from an unpopular tax and extend business tax breaks tied to former Indian lands.
Without attracting a single Republican vote, the bill passed the Democrat-controlled House 216-193 on Friday. Oklahoma Republican Reps. John Sullivan, Frank Lucas, Tom Cole and Mary Fallin joined their GOP colleagues in opposing the legislation.
Rep. Dan Boren, the state's only Democrat in Congress, missed the vote and declined to say how he would have voted, the Tulsa World reported.
The bill has drawn a veto threat from the Bush administration, and Senate rules could make scheduling even a floor vote more difficult.
A major issue is whether the $50 billion effort to temporarily shield more Americans from the Alternative Minimum Tax, originally targeting the wealthy when adopted decades ago, should be revenue neutral.
House Democratic leaders argue it would be fiscally irresponsible not to pay for the change, while Republicans say that is not necessary.
Sullivan criticized Democrats for funding tax relief for some by raising taxes on others.
”This legislation would impose $82.5 billion in permanent tax increases on businesses and individuals over 10 years to offset temporary tax relief, such as one-year extensions of certain tax credits and deductions,” he said.
”These tax increases will stifle the economy, overly burden the taxpayer and lead to larger government.”
Sullivan pointed to his past support for Alternative Minimum Tax relief, the Indian land tax incentives and the other provisions in the bill.
Democrats responded to such criticisms by citing what they called the Republicans' ”reckless deficit spending” that threatened to bankrupt the nation.
One key Democrat specifically pointed to Republicans' refusal to pay for the war in Iraq, the tax cuts pushed by President Bush and the prescription drug program for seniors.
Democrats said their tax bill is paid for by eliminating an unfair loophole in current law that allows multimillionaires to pay a lower tax rate on their compensation than firefighters, nurses and teachers.
According to figures released by the Democrats, their tax bill would shield more than 135,000 taxpayers in Oklahoma from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Boren has been promoting the provisions that would extend tax breaks linked to former Indian lands in Oklahoma.
Initially passed a decade ago, the tax breaks have been credited with generating millions of dollars in investment in the state. Two-thirds of Oklahoma qualifies.
One of the tax credits allows businesses that locate on or expand to former Indian lands to qualify for an accelerated depreciation schedule, which permits them to recover the costs more quickly.
A second provides an additional deduction for businesses that operate on former Indian lands and employ American Indians.
Both expire at the end of this year.