News / USA

Bipartisanship Tested in US Tax Debate

From left, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., House Speaker-designate John Boehner of Ohio, and House Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor of Va., take part in a news conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 30 Nov  2010
From left, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., House Speaker-designate John Boehner of Ohio, and House Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor of Va., take part in a news conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 30 Nov 2010

One day after President Barack Obama urged bipartisanship to solve America's most pressing problems, Republican and Democratic senators continue to stake out resolutely partisan positions on federal taxes and how best to stimulate the economy while shrinking the massive U.S. deficit.  At stake is what, if anything, can be accomplished in a brief, end-of year congressional session.

Next year, Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives and boost their numbers in the Senate.  With divided government looming, President Obama met with congressional leaders of both parties Tuesday to try to chart a course for swift legislative action in coming weeks.

"I thought it was a productive meeting," he said. "I thought that people came to it with a spirit of trying to work together, and I think it is a good start as we move forward. I think everybody understands that the American people want us to focus on their jobs, not ours."

Republican leaders echoed the sentiment, and embraced a proposal from the president that congressional representatives of both parties meet with administration officials to craft a bipartisan deal on federal taxes and government spending.

But soon thereafter, partisan sniping engulfed the halls of Congress.  With stubbornly-high U.S. unemployment, federal income taxes set to rise, and runaway national debt, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander accused Democrats of pursuing a misguided agenda that voters rejected in last month's elections.

"In bringing up so many issues in this lame duck [end-of-year] session, the Democratic Senate leadership is insisting on an encore for a concert that drew a lot of boos [from the American people]," he said.

Democrats want to extend tax cuts for all but top income-earners and extend federal unemployment benefits.  In addition, President Obama has urged the Senate to ratify a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.  Some Democrats are also pushing for a repeal of the U.S. military's ban on openly-gay service, and a provision allowing illegal-alien youth to remain in the United States if they excel at school and perform military service.

Republicans say they have only one immediate priority: the economy.

"First, we ought to resolve what the tax rates are going to be for the American people beginning next year," said  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Republicans insist that all tax cuts be extended for all income levels, including millionaires, and have threatened to block any legislation that allows taxes on top earners to rise.  They say allowing any taxes hikes would depress an already-weak U.S. economy.  Democrats say preserving tax cuts for the wealthy would add $700 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota says the Republican position is fiscal suicide.

"We [the United States] are at war," said Dorgan. "We have paid for none of it.  It has all been added to the debt.  And we are talking about cutting taxes for people that make a million dollars a year.  It is Byzantine.  Historians will look back and say, 'What were they possibly thinking?'"

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri echoed the sentiment.

"Really?  The Republicans would block tax relief for 99.9 percent of Americans just to protect millionaires who have done very well in this down economy?" she asks.

Among the compromises reportedly under consideration would be a temporary tax cut extension for all income levels tied to an extension of unemployment benefits and other items sought by Democrats.  Alternatively, some Democrats have proposed setting the cut-off for a tax reduction at the one-million-dollar income level.

With legislators of both parties holding firm to their positions, the question becomes whether leaders can strike a bipartisan compromise and convince their members to support it.  Until then, the stand-off continues, with each side looking to see if the other will blink.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid