Inside the Bush Tax Cut Compromise is a Gift for Transit Riders

No matter how you feel about extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, there’s one reason to hope it passes: it includes an extension of the transit benefit.

Transit riders' tax benefits hinge on Congress ironing out an agreement on tax cuts for the rich. Image: ##http://woldcnews.com/DCnews/woldcnews/expanded-cell-phone-coverage-coming-to-metrorail/##WOL##

Transit riders' tax benefits hinge on Congress ironing out an agreement on tax cuts for the rich. Image: WOL

The tax-free benefit for transit used to be capped at $120 a month, but the stimulus raised it to $230, on par with driving benefits.

Ya-Ting Liu has been leading the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s push to extend the benefit. “In addition to this very political debate over tax cuts for the wealthy, there are all these other things are wrapped up in it,” said Liu, “including unemployment benefits, and the tax credit for the working poor, all these other things. It’s become this hodge-podge packet of provisions, some of which we really like.”

If you’ve been following the political tug-of-war over the tax cut provisions, you know it’s been contentious, but the transit benefit could pass quietly as part of the package. Liu says, as far as she’s heard, there are no efforts to strip it out of the larger bill.

The Senate voted overwhelming last night to invoke cloture, ending debate on the bill. We’re still waiting for a final vote.

The real test will come in the House, where Democrats have publicly revolted against President’s compromise on tax cuts with the GOP. The House could vote on the bill as early as Thursday.