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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid