WPRI 12 News Washington DC Bureau

Lawmakers push electric car tax credit expansion


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers from both parties are backing a bill that would expand the 2008 federal tax credit for people who buy electric vehicles.

“This is our opportunity to be the leaders of the pack,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said. “We need to make sure that we’re keeping this going.”

The goal is to encourage more people to buy electric cars by giving them a $7,000 credit. Backers say it would help automakers like Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Tesla sell an additional 400,000 electric vehicles.

“We can create jobs in Michigan and tackle carbon pollution at the same time,” Stabenow said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the plan could also help out-of-work residents of his state.

“These electric cars ought to be made in plants in Ohio, especially in Lordstown,” Brown said.

Despite support from members of both parties, the proposal is already hitting a few road blocks. President Donald Trump’s administration wants to cut the program, arguing the credits will cost taxpayers $2.5 billion over the next decade.

“Yes, there are people who benefit from these tax credits. But is that a legitimate reason to keep these subsidies? And I would argue no,” said Katie Tubb of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

She pointed out that the majority of people who use the tax credit can already afford electric cars.

“If you really want to help the environment, the way to do that is not subsidize a product but to get a better product at a better price,” she said.

The plan will likely pass the Democrat-controlled House but could face conservative opposition in the Republican-held Senate.

Stabenow said that if passed, the expansion would likely be the credit’s last. She said once there are more electric cars on the roads, more businesses will install charging stations and the cars will sell without government support.

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