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Democrats' Agenda Moving Forward?

Thursday, 18 Jan 2007 | 1:15 PM ET

House and Senate Democrats are certainly trying to shake things up on Capitol Hill. Both chambers are expected to push an energy package through for some $15 billion in fees, taxes and royalties on big oil (we'll have another post on this subject). But--they're doing a lot more says CNBC's John Harwood on "Power Lunch."

So--what do they want and can they get it done? Harwood says the Democrats right now in the Senate want tax breaks for businesses that add up to some $8.3 billion. This would go to extending current tax credits for hard to hire workers. It would also go to extending provisions for accelerating deductions for lease holdings and also to extend current tax provisions for small business expenses.

Tax Cuts & Tax Hikes
Congress deals with taxes and breaks for oil companies today, with John Harwood, CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent

Where's the money come from? There's the rub--at least as far as American CEOs are concerned. To finance the measure--the Democrats want to limit to $1 million the amount of a CEO's salary that can be tax deferred. This is being dubbed the "Bob Nardelli" bill--in light of the former Home Depot's CEO $210 million severance deal ( he quit HD earlier in the month).

Harwood says getting all this is not going to be easy for the Democrats--as witnessed by Wednesday's action by Senate Republicans. They've put up a legislative roadblock to ethics reform--that includes efforts to reduce the influence of lobbyists and forcing lawmakers to be more open about pet projects they want to fund. The Republicans want the ethics reform bill to include an amendment that would give the president authority to single out individual spending items for elimination-- more or less a line item veto with congressional approval.

One item the Senate did approve Wednesday was approve an amendment to the ethics bill that would require senators who ride on corporate jet to pay charter rates. Right now--they only play a far cheaper first-class ticket. But again--the whole bill is still stalled.

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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

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Kenny Polcari