Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Mike Pompeo clashed Wednesday over the future of a key wind energy tax credit, underscoring the many hurdles lawmakers face in their push to reform the tax code.
Pompeo, a conservative Kansas Republican, criticized a deal to avert the fiscal cliff that extended the production tax credit for wind by one year – just one day after the credit expired.
“We got rid of the wind production tax credit. I worked really hard on it. We got rid of it for 23 hours,” Pompeo, a vocal critic of the tax credit, said during a POLITICO Pro’s Deep Dive on energy and taxes. “But in the Senate they snuck it in – in the dark of night.”
Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee’s energy panel, shot back, “There was a light in the room. It wasn’t dark.”
The sharp exchange underscored the wide gulf between Democrats and conservative Republicans on energy taxation. Democrats and some Republicans want to extend tax credits for wind and solar power, arguing the industries need short-term support to thrive. But conservative Republicans like Pompeo counter that renewables should stand on their own without government support.
“Wind, solar … let’s let them go compete. … What they don’t need is somebody else’s money,” Pompeo said during the event at the Newseum in Washington. He added that too many tax breaks go to “energy sources that have political patrons, not customers.”
But Stabenow said it’s the oil and gas industry that has benefited from nearly a century of tax breaks embedded in the tax code and that it’s time to level the playing field by eliminating breaks for the largest, most profitable companies.
“We’ve been picking winners for 100 years,” she told Pompeo, referring to deductions in the code for oil companies. “You’re right, we’ve got some special deals in the tax code.”
“We made a policy decision to pick a winner. We picked a winner. They won. And they’ve been doing great,” she said of the oil industry.
Stabenow said the wind production tax credit isn’t going to be eliminated without a fight.
“Now we have an opportunity when everybody is racing to clean energy technologies to win again,” she said. “I’m going to fight like crazy for that production tax credit.”
Summing up his position on Stabenow’s views, Pompeo said: “I disagree with just about everything.”
“This is where it gets interesting,” she said.
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