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Despite opposition from Mitt Romney, the Senate Finance Committee just passed a one year extension of a tax credit for wind energy strongly favored by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Senate Republicans rebuffed their presumptive presidential nominee as the Senate Finance Committee passed a one-year extension of the tax credit for wind energy, just four days after Mitt Romney’s campaign announced that it wanted the credit to die.

The lawmakers had tried to unite around the position of the Republican presidential hopeful, leaving the wind production credit out of a slate of business tax breaks to be formally drafted on Thursday. But that drive faltered when Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, angrily told colleagues he would join with Democrats to add the extension back, according to Finance Committee aides. Rather than have a public fight, senators quietly inserted the one-year, $3.3 billion tax break before the committee took up the suite of tax breaks and passed them Thursday afternoon.

“It’s not right to single out one energy incentive over others before a broader tax reform debate,” Mr. Grassley said in a statement.

Markos reported a prelude to this fight three days ago, noting how important passage of this bill is to jobs in Iowa, a battleground state where President Obama and Mitt Romney are running within a few percentage points of each other. Kos reported that Grassley was angry that no one from the Romney campaign checked with him before announcing Romney's opposition to a bill he has been closely connected to for years, and considers to be vital to the state of Iowa.  

Repubican Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine also join 18 other committee members to pass the measure with 5 Republicans voting against it.

Many conservatives disagree and are trying to eliminate all tax subsidies and let competing energy sources sink or swim on their own. But wind energy has become highly political as the election draws near. President Obama has loudly promoted the industry, and giving it federal stimulus money and backing tax credits. Mr. Romney took the opposite side.
The full Senate vote will come up in September.

Good luck in Iowa, Mr. Romney.  

1:48 PM PT: Kos's article from July 31, 2012 included this cool poll tracking report illustrating how close the competition in Iowa has become.  It isn't clear from the NYT article if we Democrats will try to take political advantage of this apparent blunder by Mitt Romney (ho, ho, ho -- a little wind energy humor here to brighten your day.)


1:54 PM PT: yikes, here's the actual chart that didn't embed in the update above.


2:00 PM PT: Double yikes, I'd like to retract the last two update, or convert them to downdates as the cool plot will not embed.  Please click on the orange Markos in my post if you want to see a plot of how close Iowa.  If we keep NV, CO, NH, MI, WI, and PA, we have four paths to victory in the electoral college, OH, FL, VA, or a combination of IA and CO, so despite it small size it is too critical a state for Romney to muff up like this.

2:53 PM PT: Gov. Terry Brandstad shares his view

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad isn't very happy that Mitt Romney opposes a one-year extension of a tax credit for wind energy.

The issue puts the presidential candidate on the other side of Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top two Republicans in a swing state. The tax credit will cost the federal government $1.6 billion this year.

In an interview today with Radio Iowa, Branstad blamed "confusion" in Romney's campaign and says he'd like to speak to the candidate so he becomes "educated" on the issue.

"I understand why they are very critical of the whole thing that was done by the Obama administration with regard to the stimulus and some of the money that was wasted on Solyndra and some of these green-energy projects didn't make sense," Branstad said in the radio interview. "The tax credit, however, is a much different thing and it way preceded Obama and it was actually something that Sen. Grassley authored and has made a real difference over time." ...

The tax credit is a big deal to Iowans, given 20% of the state's energy is generated by wind, Branstad said. The American Wind Energy Association says the industry provides power to the equivalent of over 12 million homes in the nation.

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