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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
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 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 Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
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 Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
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.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid