Monday, December 6, 2010

Lame-Duck Session - #2453 - Byron York: In Tax Defeat Dems Pay the Price for Old Tricks - The Examiner (2) Deal Near to Cut Payroll Tax - Wall Street Journal

You may remember that during the health care debate, when Democrats, having lost their 60th vote in the Senate with the election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, decided to put the final touches on national health care by using the arcane process of reconciliation. That allowed them to pass parts of the bill with a simple majority, 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes required to overcome a GOP filibuster.  Republicans cried foul, arguing that reconciliation wasn't appropriate for such a far-reaching measure. But Democrats pointed out that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 -- very significant pieces of legislation -- were passed using reconciliation. In the end, Democrats got what they wanted.  Fast forward to this week. Those Bush cuts are expiring, and Democrats, still the majority party, wanted to extend them for everybody except individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and couples who make more than $250,000. Republicans, who have just 42 votes, wanted to extend all the cuts for all income levels. On Saturday, Democrats were unable to beat a Republican filibuster, and their version of tax cut extension went down to defeat. So why not try reconciliation? If it was used to pass the Bush cuts in the first place, couldn't it have been used to extend them? That way, Democrats, who have 58 votes, could have passed their bill with just 51 and would not have had to worry about a GOP filibuster. Taxes on the "rich" would go up, and progressives everywhere would be celebrating today.  Alas, it didn't happen. And, although the details are complicated, the Democrats have only themselves to blame.  Read more.........


Deal Near to Cut Payroll Tax - Wall Street Journal - The White House and Republican lawmakers were close to an agreement on a broad tax package that would extend the Bush-era rate cuts, reduce worker payroll taxes for one year and give more favorable treatment to new business investments.Other possible elements of the still-developing deal include a temporary reinstatement of the estate tax at 35%—the level favored by most Republican lawmakers—as well as an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and temporary tax breaks for students and working families.  The outcome of the negotiations is vital, because the current tax levels signed into law by President George W. Bush expire on Dec. 31. Unless Congress acts beforehand, tax rates on virtually all Americans who pay income taxes will rise on Jan. 1. That could affect economic growth and even holiday sales.  Congressional Republicans are pressing their advantage in the negotiations as the clock ticks down. In a statement, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said, "No one gets everything they want in a deal, but our top priority is to restore certainty to the private sector so that businesses small and large can start hiring again."  But many details remain under discussion, and the deal must pass muster with sufficient numbers of Democrats to win passage in the House and Senate. Democrats didn't agree to the deal during meetings at the White House on Monday with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, according to a House aide. "There are going to be a lot of unhappy Democrats with this deal,'' said a Senate Democratic aide.  Read more........

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