News / USA

Mixed Reaction to US Tax Deal on Capitol Hill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., second from left, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. From left are, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., McConnell, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. John Barras
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., second from left, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. From left are, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., McConnell, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. John Barras

The federal tax deal between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans has prompted divergent reactions from Democratic senators, ranging from anger to resignation. Republican senators sound far more upbeat, one day after Mr. Obama abandoned a central plank of his economic policy - agreeing to a temporary extension of tax cuts for the wealthy.

Senate Republicans secured a commitment from the White House to allow all current tax cuts for all income levels to remain in place, while agreeing to measures to benefit the unemployed and middle-class families.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a positive tone after presenting the deal to fellow Republicans. "I think the vast majority of the Republican caucus in the Senate feel that this is a step in the right direction, an important step to take for the American people. And I think the vast majority of my members will be supporting it," he said.

Less enthusiastic was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after a Democratic caucus meeting that featured a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. Reid made clear that, however necessary the tax deal may be, it is a bitter pill for Democrats to swallow.

"We are all appreciative of the work the president has done to move the tax debate forward. While this is not an arrangement many in the [Democratic] caucus would have made, we understand the president is negotiating with congressional Republicans, who are willing to risk everything to secure tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans," he said.

Asked if he intends to vote for the tax deal, Reid would only say he will do what he thinks is right. He said many Democratic senators have deep concerns about the proposal.

That may be an understatement. Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana suggested the plan amounts to welfare for millionaires at the cost of the poor and middle class, and that she is at a loss to explain why President Obama agreed to the deal.

"He [Obama] basically didn't think any of us cared much about it. Well, I want him to know: I do care," he said.

Such blunt criticism of a president by a senator from his own party is rare.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California was non-committal on the proposal at her party's caucus, and remained so afterwards. "What we really need to see is the proposal in context, with dollar marks after it, so you can look at it and add it up," she said.

But Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota appears resigned to a distasteful political compromise made necessary by perilous economic conditions. "I think the president did not have much choice. The best economic analysis available to us and available to him indicated that a failure to get a package of about this size would lead to substantially-reduced economic growth next year," he said.

Several Republican senators, including Kit Bond of Missouri, hailed the proposal for its inclusion of a key Republican demand: no taxes hikes for anyone. "It's a great step forward. It's the one thing I think can have a chance of boosting the economy and begin creating the jobs we badly need," Bond said.

But Bond admitted the plan will add hundreds of billions of dollars to America's trillion-dollar federal deficit, since, as of now, few provisions are offset by corresponding cuts in spending. Members of both parties have spoken passionately about the need to trim the deficit. For now, however, Washington appears willing to further expand the deficit in the short term, hoping to spark economic expansion that will make it easier to close the budget gap in the long term.

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