September 20, 2010

September 20, 2010 | Commentary on Taxes

Extend the Tax Cuts

Congress is debating tax policy with an impending massive increase in taxes looming for all tax-paying Americans in 2011. If the congressional Democratic leadership relents, then over the next few weeks the American people may see votes on preventing the tax hikes, but these votes are pure political theater, signifying nothing, since nothing will be signed into law before the November elections.

To clarify their positions, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) has introduced legislation to prevent the tax hikes, while President Obama and moderate Democrats want to prevent only a small portion of the hikes for middle-income Americans.

In a stunning recent development, 31 House Democrats authored a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) last week, requesting that Pelosi “extend all of the income tax cuts contained in The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.” These members are concerned that “raising any taxes right now could negatively impact economic growth.” They’re right to be concerned, but it’s shocking to see 31 Democrats opposing President Obama’s policy on such a high-profile issue just weeks before an election.

The House and Senate may vote to prevent the tax hikes by extending the current rates over the next few weeks and before the election. However, as the Democratic congressional leadership has made clear, it seems unlikely that any tax bill will hit the President’s desk before the election—and maybe not after the election, either.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

This week, the Defense Authorization bill is expected to come to the Senate floor.  Most Capitol Hill insiders expect this legislation to be a magnet for highly charged political issues. One of the most highly charged will be the debate over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The proposed legislation would repeal the Clinton Administration law that banned openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) has opposed efforts for repeal pending a report by the military on how this change in law would affect military readiness. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is also considering a vote on other controversial measures, including an immigration bill known as the DREAM Act, an authorization to allow abortions in military hospitals and a ban on so-called “Secret Holds.” Few in Washington expect these controversial measures to make it to the President’s desk before the fall elections.

Continuing Resolution

Congress will not complete any appropriations bills by the October 1 deadline set by law. Therefore a continuing resolution will have to pass in the next two weeks to keep the federal government running into early next year. The Obama Administration may use this must-pass bill to ram through a $1.9 billion education measure, $800 million in child-care block grants and other pet projects. Conservatives should monitor this legislation to make sure it doesn’t get loaded with special projects and earmarks.

Even Liberals Want to Repeal ObamaCare

The effort to repeal Obamacare is bipartisan. Rep. Gene Taylor (D.-Miss.) has signed a petition being circulated by Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) to force a vote on repeal of Obamacare. Thirty-four Democrats ended up opposing Obamacare earlier this year, and it’s possible that some of those may sign onto the effort for repeal. The bottom line is that the repeal effort is picking up steam.

Tea Party v. Cocktail Party

Establishment Republicans are furious these days. This rage is emerging at cocktail parties all over Washington, D.C. How, these Republican elites keep wondering, can the American people keep rejecting their hand-picked candidates?  Conservatives need to watch the Capitol like a hawk to ensure mischief is kept to a minimum before establishment members from both parties are switched for a new crop of politicians in Congress.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

Related Issues: Taxes

First appeared in Human Events