News / USA

US Tax Bill Clears Senate

US President Barack Obama arrives to speak about the tax legislation working its way through Congress during a statement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington, DC, Dec 15, 2010
US President Barack Obama arrives to speak about the tax legislation working its way through Congress during a statement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House in Washington, DC, Dec 15, 2010

Multimedia

Audio

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a sweeping federal tax bill that will swell America's national debt by hundreds of billions of dollars and, it is hoped, stimulate a lagging U.S. economy. Attention now shifts to the House of Representatives, where some Democrats want to alter the tax deal struck between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 81 to 19 to extend existing federal tax rates for all income levels. Those tax rates are set to rise beginning next year - an outcome neither party wants at a time of chronic economic weakness. The bill also extends federal jobless benefits, limits inheritance taxes on multi-million-dollar estates, and trims worker payroll contributions to Social Security. The bill would increase spending and shrink revenue, sharply boosting federal indebtedness over the next two years.

A common refrain from liberal and conservative senators alike: The tax deal is flawed, but better than doing nothing.

Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said, "Nobody thinks this is a perfect bill."

The senator explained his "yes" vote this way: "While any increase in the deficit is unwelcome, the overall merits of this bill, including preventing a massive tax increase - one for each and every taxpayer - outweigh [concerns about] that deficit increase, in my opinion."

At the other end of the ideological spectrum, California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said dire economic conditions make the tax deal necessary. "I voted for this bill because I think our economy continues to be in a fragile state when it comes to job growth."

A handful of Republicans who opposed the deal objected to extending unemployment benefits without corresponding cuts in spending to offset the cost.

Meanwhile, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted "no" to protest what he sees as tax giveaways for the super-rich. "We are in the process of providing huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country, to drive up the national debt, which our kids and grandchildren will have to pay off."

Sanders was one of several senators to offer amendments ahead of the vote, none of which were adopted.

The House of Representatives also is expected to vote on the tax package, but it is not clear whether the chamber will alter the bill as it currently exists. Any changes would send the package back to the Senate for another vote.

Economists view the tax bill as stimulative, and some forecasters say the package could boost U.S. economic output by one percentage point next year. But it will add to America's trillion-dollar federal deficit at a time when polls show Americans worried about soaring U.S. national debt.

While voting for the tax bill, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Congress must address the fiscal imbalance. "It is time for us in the Senate, and excuse the language, to put up or shut up [act or be silent]. We can do short term stimulus now, but next year engage in meaningful tax reform and deficit reduction."

President Obama has championed the tax bill as an imperfect, but necessary bipartisan compromise to fuel economic growth. If enacted, the measure effectively postpones thorny tax issues until 2012, when Mr. Obama presumably will be running for reelection, and Republicans hope to take control of both the White House and the Senate.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs