When the GOP has to choose between a 1099 fix and oil subsidies

WHEN THE GOP HAS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A 1099 FIX AND OIL SUBSIDIES…. There’s a credible argument to be made that the IRS filing requirements in the Affordable Care Act are a little too burdensome on businesses. The point is sound — preventing tax fraud — but the execution may need some work.

In the Senate, there were two approaches to addressing the problem. The first came from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who wanted to eliminate the reporting requirements altogether, and would pay for it by all by eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund, gutting funds for things like HIV prevention, cancer screening, and flu vaccinations. Republicans thought this was a great idea and unanimously supported the Johanns amendment, but it fell short of 60 votes.

The other proposed fix came from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who offered a reasonable compromise: raise the 1099 reporting threshold to $5,000 and exempt firms with fewer than 25 employees. Nelson would pay for his measure by reducing subsidies to oil companies.

The Senate voted on this today, too, after the Johanns measure failed. Now, common sense should dictate that Republicans, worried about the 1099 issue, should jump at the chance to support Nelson’s proposal. After all, Johanns’ idea has already been taken off the table — it’s either Nelson’s fix or no fix at all.

So, how many Republicans voted for Nelson’s amendment? Zero. Literally, not one. It had 56 supporters — four shy of what was needed to pass — and no GOP support at all.

And why, pray tell, would Republicans reject a sensible proposal to fix a problem they claim to be concerned about? Because Democrats wanted to pay for it by eliminating oil industry subsidies, and the GOP considers that unacceptable.

So here you’ve got Democrats agreeing to modify the requirement and offset the cost by cutting oil and gas subsidies. Who could be against that? I mean, who’s actually in favor of oil and gas subsidies? Come on down, Rep. Paul Ryan!

“We’re going to single out one sector of our economy, a very important sector of our economy, and say higher tax rates if you produce in the U.S. than any other sector in the economy. This is just ridiculous economics, redistribution, but more importantly, it’s just punitive. It’s punitive and it’s political and it’s not going to help our economy.”

Given a choice between fixing the “1099 problem,” and protecting oil industry subsidies, Republicans who claim to care deeply about the former, nevertheless prioritize the latter.

I can’t help but wonder sometimes how many seats Republicans would lose if voters paid close attention to daily developments on Capitol Hill.