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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid