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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid