Postponing vote on tax cuts lame decision

Freedom New Mexico

Accountability took a back seat this week when Democrats in control of Congress decided to postpone voting on extension of the Bush tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 election.

We prefer elected officials to be as accountable as possible. Delaying a vote on extending the tax cuts, which expire Jan. 1, until after voters go to the polls could leave many representatives and senators voted out of office, but finishing their term in a lame-duck Congress unaccountable for their votes.

It’s unclear how this may affect extending the tax cuts. But it never bodes well when politicians, who have lost re-election, have nothing to lose by voting contrary to constituents’ best interests.

Although Democrats control both houses, the party’s leadership apparently determined there are insufficient votes to extend the tax cuts for most Americans and to let them expire for people in the top income-tax bracket, the party leadership’s preferred position. That’s because several Democrats in both houses have joined Republicans, who prefer to extend tax cuts for all tax brackets.

Some Democratic defectors seem to agree that raising any taxes in the current economic doldrums could hurt them at the polls. But after Nov. 2, they may feel there’s nothing left to lose by opposing extension. Moreover, if Democrats retain majority control after the election, it’s possible they could be emboldened and reject extending tax cuts for other taxpayers in addition to those in the top bracket.

Although many Democrats now openly agree any tax increase is economically harmful, there’s a lot of money at stake. Federal revenue would be reduced $3.7 trillion over a decade if all the tax cuts were extended. If cuts for all other tax brackets were extended, but the cut for the top tax bracket was allowed to expire, the government would lose $700 billion.

“Democrats have absolutely pledged, and will make sure before the end of this year, the Republican increase on middle-income taxes will not go into effect,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told Fox News on Sunday.

Democrats characterize the scheduled income tax hike after Jan. 1 as “the Republican increase” because a previous Republican-controlled congress set the Bush tax cuts to expire Jan. 1, 2011. Should Republicans take control of Congress again, party leaders say they will extend all tax cuts.

If no tax cuts are extended, the top tax bracket, now 35 percent, will increase to 39.6 percent, the lowest bracket would increase from 10 percent to 15 percent, and the brackets in between would be adjusted upward.