Putting aside efforts to control the federal deficit before the elections, Republican and Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday to extend $145 billion worth of tax cuts sought by President Bush without trying to pay for them.
At a House-Senate conference committee, Democratic lawmakers abandoned efforts to pay for the measures by either imposing a surcharge on wealthy families or closing corporate tax shelters.
"I wish we could pay for them, but this is a political problem and we have people up for re-election,'' said Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. "If you have to explain that you voted for these tax cuts because they benefit the middle class and against them because of the deficit, you've got a problem.''
Fearful of being attacked as supporters of higher taxes, Democrats said they would go along with an unpaid five-year extension of the $1,000 child tax credit; a four-year extension of tax breaks intended to reduce the so-called marriage penalty on two-income families; and a six-year extension of a provision that allowed more people to qualify for the lowest tax rate of 10 percent.
Even as they pushed for the cuts that will add to the federal budget deficit, House Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that they hoped to have a vote soon on a constitutional amendment that would require the government to balance the budget by 2010, except if the country is at war.
That proposed amendment has no chance of becoming law, but it would conflict with even the Bush administration's rosiest goals for reducing the deficit, which is expected to hit $420 billion this year, a record. Mr. Bush has promised only to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Approval of the tax cut package is a significant victory for Mr. Bush, who champions the extension of the cuts at every campaign stop but whose wishes had been thwarted by Democrats and a handful of Republican moderates in the Senate.
Republicans suck at controlling everything, and the Democrats suck at being a minority party.
Golly, when the Democrats ran pretty much everything between 1933 and 1973 we managed to rebuild the economy, create the social safety net, win a World War in two different hemispheres simultaneously, and lay the groundwork for creating social justice, and go to the moon -- granted we did get Vietnam out of the deal.
In the last three years and six months, George Bush and the GOP managed to cut rich people's taxes and um...stand on a pile of rubble with a bullhorn, and for all that we still got the sequel to Vietnam. And he managed to do all these in less than one-tenth the time.
Wow, that's really something to brag about.
My dream scenario, Kerry wins, the Democrats win for the most part and somebody like Tom Daschle isn't the Majority leader.