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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid