by Anugrah Kumar
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Democrats in the U.S. Senate pushed for and succeeded in the passage of a bill to extend tax cuts for the middle class. The Democratic bill was approved Wednesday by a near party-line 51-48 vote, and Vice President Joe Biden presided over the chamber just in case his vote was required to break a tie, The Associated Press reported.
The measure was passed soon after a rival Republican plan to include the best-off in the tax reductions was defeated 54-45 in the Senate.
When the Democratic bill goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives next week, it will certainly be rejected. “The House will vote next week to stop that tax hike, and until the Senate does the same, the threat to our economy remains,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement following the vote on Wednesday.
Democrats seemingly pushed for the measure just to allow President Obama to say to voters in the run-up to the Nov. 6 presidential election that his party got the measure passed but Republicans prevented his party from implementing it.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said, “Now the ball is in Speaker Boehner’s court. The Senate has spoken, the message is clear: ‘put the middle-class first.’”
“With the Senate’s vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and nearly every small business owner,” Obama said in a statement.
However, the passage of the Democratic bill also allows Republicans to say that the Democratic Party doesn’t care for businesses. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said, “Thank goodness it’s not going anywhere because it would be bad for the economy, the single worst thing we could do to the country.”
The $250 billion Democratic measure seeks to extend tax cuts for another year that are otherwise set to expire in January. But those tax cuts are not meant for individuals whose annual earnings exceed $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 yearly.
Under the Democratic measure, individuals earning over $200,000 and couples making at least $250,000 would see their top rates on those earnings rise from 33 percent and 35 percent today to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in January.
Republicans in the House are now expected to pass a bill similar to their $405 billion measure the Senate rejected Wednesday.
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas — Once again, the president seeks a “stimulus” for the economy in the form of nearly a half trillion dollars in government spending and tax cuts. We’ve been through this before. It didn’t work in 2009 and 2010, and it won’t work now.
Remember the first stimulus? Remember how we urgently needed it to create jobs and rescue our economy? The president assured us that shoveling money into “shovel-ready” projects would boost the economy and create jobs — and prevent the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent. It didn’t happen that way. Despite spending nearly $1 trillion, American jobs continued to be eliminated. The unemployment rate rose above 8 percent, then above 9 percent, and peaked at over 10 percent. It has remained above 9 percent for 27 of the past 29 months.
Then the president went on “60 Minutes” and said that he had learned there was no such thing as “shovel ready.” He actually said that!
The tragedy of Obama is that he simply doesn’t understand what the country needs. We need jobs, economic growth and leadership. He is an academic surrounded by eggheads. He theorizes when we need practical solutions. He is political when we need leadership.
Creating jobs is not an ivory-tower exercise. Business leaders have to take risks every day. But they make calculated risks. Bad risks can lead to bankruptcy. Risks have to be weighed against the potential for return. Uncertainty is the enemy. Uncertainty makes risk ill advised.
The Obama era is the era of uncertainty for businesses. More new regulations have been promulgated during the Obama administration’s first 30 months than during any other comparable period in American history. Obamacare creates tremendous uncertainty for job creators. The Dodd-Frank legislation is an assault on innovation in the financial sector with the result that banks, even those flush with cash, are not lending. Less lending smothers growth. The president has made it clear that he wants to raise taxes, causing business decision makers to wonder if their bottom lines will take another hit. The instability of the federal budget deficit is yet another huge problem.
All of this uncertainty makes risk-taking too dangerous. So, the economy flounders. The unemployed languish. The recession deepens.
A real jobs plan would provide certainty to business and bolster consumer confidence. The way forward is clear: place a moratorium on new government regulation, suspend the implementation of Obamacare, reform the tax code to make it simple, cut taxes to put money into the economy, pass the three pending free trade agreements to increase our exports and embrace the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan (a plan written for the president at his request, by the way). Back up this straightforward plan with decisive leadership.
Good people are hurting all across the country. Bad public policy threatens the American dream. It shouldn’t take Einstein to figure this out. It’s tragic. Regrettably, Obama’s tragedy is also America’s tragedy.
Charles E. Kilbourne served in former Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. Subsequently, he has worked extensively in various capacities in the fields of international affairs and international economics. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree from Georgetown University.