News / USA

House Passes Obama Tax Cut Compromise

In this photo rendered from video via C-SPAN, shows the final vote tally on the bill to avoid income tax increases on Jan. 1
In this photo rendered from video via C-SPAN, shows the final vote tally on the bill to avoid income tax increases on Jan. 1

The House of Representatives has passed a sweeping federal tax bill based on a compromise crafted by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, despite passionate opposition by many liberal members of the president's own Democratic Party.  The Senate passed the tax legislation easily on Wednesday, meaning the bill will now go to the president for signing.  The vote on the bill was 277-148.

It was a high stakes showdown on  the floor of the House of Representatives and the final vote came at midnight.  

The legislative battle crossed party lines and saw Democratic lawmakers openly rebelling against their own Democratic president and their own leadership in Congress.  A House vote expected much earlier in the day was abruptly postponed for hours after liberal members who oppose the bill were enraged at efforts by party leaders to limit opportunities for them to express their dissent.

The legislation extends Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans for two years, even the wealthiest,  although the president and Democratic lawmakers originally had hoped to extend tax cuts for individuals for only the first $200,000 they earned in a year.

The $858 billion measure also extends unemployment benefits for 13 months for the long-term unemployed and imposes a two percent cut in payroll taxes.  The president negotiated the compromise with a group of Republican lawmakers headed by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and pushed hard for Congress to pass it, saying it is crucial to fuel economic growth and create jobs.

Many of the liberal Democratic members voted for an amendment, that ultimately failed, that would have raised the rate for the inheritance tax for multi-million dollar estates.  If the amendment had passed, the bill would have gone back to the Senate, throwing the whole compromise into doubt.

Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts summed up the argument expressed by many  liberal Democrats that it is immoral in times of economic hardship for so many working class Americans to give more tax breaks to millionaires.

"We have children go to sleep at night hungry, in the richest country in the world, we should be ashamed of ourselves.  We can do better than add to the deficit by giving more tax cuts to the wealthy," he said.

Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon complained bitterly that the legislation will add almost $1 trillion to the already soaring U.S. national debt.

"Every other major industrial nation on earth is talking about buckling down a little bit and austerity measures and having a sustained recovery.  No, not here.  We got out the credit card.  A trillion dollars.  Well, no it's only $858 billion," he said.

The compromise came just weeks after Democrats suffered major losses in November elections across the country, losing majority control of the House of Representatives and losing some seats in the Senate.  Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California said that for Democrats, the basis for negotiating deals will worsen when the new Congress begins in January.

"If we do not send this bill to the president's desk this year, he will certainly sign a worse bill next year," he said.

Republican Mike Pence of Indiana said his vote against the bill was difficult, but necessary.

"We all know what we should be doing today, is voting to extend all the current tax rates permanently.  The reality is that uncertainty is the enemy of prosperity," he said.

Other Republican lawmakers voted for the bill, saying they did not agree with all of it, but they do not want taxes to go up for all Americans at the beginning of the year.

For the first two years of his presidency, President Obama relied on a broadly-unified Democratic caucus in Congress to pass sweeping health care legislation, financial reform legislation and many other bills, many of them without a single Republican vote.  Now, the president says voters have shown that they want their leaders to compromise and work together across party lines to tackle the severe economic challenges the United States is facing.

Both the House and the Senate would have liked to have finished up their agenda this week to leave town for the holiday recess, but they still have to fund the federal government for the current fiscal year.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid