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Friday, May 22, 2015

Swalwell forms Sharing Economy Caucus, then pushes tax-free employer credits for using Uber, Lyft

Reps. Eric Swalwell and Darrell Issa.
CONGRESS | DISTRICT 15 | Rep. Eric Swalwell is already known as the young member of the Congress in charge of explaining the Internet to his aging colleagues. He is also not shy about placing his shaky progressive credentials on the line by reaching across the aisle with the most notorious of conservatives.

Earlier this month, Swalwell melded the two by teaming up with the ire of many Democrats, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, for the creation of a bipartisan Sharing Economy Caucus.

“As more Americans are opting to stay at Airbnbs, share their cars on Getaround, and take Uber and Lyft, it is important for Congress to take a closer look at the emerging Sharing Economy sector,” said Swalwell said in a statement. “This Caucus will explore the opportunities made possible by the sharing model, and how Congress can foster innovation and address challenges posed by this emerging sector.”

But, it didn't take long for Swalwell to plug an idea already pushed by an official from the ride-sharing company Lift. At the press conference announcing the new congressional caucus, The Hill reported a Lyft government affairs officer suggested providing employers with tax-free credits for their worker's transportation costs could be beneficial for traffic congestion, parking and the environment.

Swalwell, in response to a question about what the government can do to help the sharing economy, the paper reported, said, “One idea that I have heard about is the commuter tax benefits. I do think that we need to expand those to include ride sharing. If we believe that commuters should have a tax benefit for not using a car or for reducing the number of cars on the road, I think we should also include new and innovative ways people are getting around. So that’s one easy one where I think we could probably add that.”

As for Issa, the Republican firebrand and noted richest member of Congress has long been anathema to most Democrats. In recent years, he led the House's investigation into the Obama administration's handling of Benghazi.

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