With a meeting between Republican congressional leaders and President Obama that was postponed from November 18th now scheduled for tomorrow, both pundits and political operatives are speculating what will top the Republican agenda at the White House.
Based on soundings HUMAN EVENTS got from Capitol Hill, the priorities on the Republican agenda tomorrow can be summed up in one short sentence: “Keep all of the ’01 or ’03 tax cuts—or else.”
“Creating jobs and cutting spending are our top priorities at the meeting tomorrow,” Michael Steel, top spokesman for House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R.-OH.) told us, “If the President and Democratic leaders don’t take action before the end of the year [when the tax cuts expire] to stop all tax hikes and cut spending, the new House majority will in January. That’s our ‘Pledge to America,’ and we intend to keep it.”
The Republican attitude of “Don’t axe the tax cuts” was reportedly toughened even more by the recent weeklong orientation session of the eighty-plus GOP House Members elected last November and who will soon give the Republican Party its largest majority in the House since 1946. Almost to a person, the incoming lawmakers weighed in and admonished Boehner and other GOP leaders to stand firm behind extending the tax cuts passed during the Bush Administration.
One of them, Rep-elect Joe Walsh (Ill.) told HUMAN EVENTS: “I’m glad the Republican congressional leaders will be sitting down with the President Tuesday. Exchanging ideas and working toward a positive relationship are both valuable exercises. But on Nov 2nd, the American people put Republicans in charge of Congress with clear marching orders: reign in the out of control federal spending and bring immediate and certain tax relief to families and business. The President would be well served to heed that public call and join with Republican’s right off the bat to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans.”
GOP congressional staffers acknowledge that if the tax cuts expire by the end of the year and Republicans have to pass them again when the new Congress convenes in January, that the President could simply veto the newly-enacted tax cuts. But they also note that this will result in a massive tax increase on all wage-earners and keep the issue of lower taxes alive and well into the 2012 presidential election season.
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Others on the Hill noted that, even in a lameduck session under the Democratic majority, there are quite a few Democrats who want to extend the tax cuts and get the issue of lower taxes off the political table. Rep. Fred Upton (R.-Mich.), who is seeking the chairmanship of the House Energy Committee, pointed out that in the vote for adjournment in October, 37 Democrats voted with every Republican to keep the House from adjourning. This tied the vote on adjournment, thereby necessitating a tie-breaking vote (for the House to adjourn) from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“And I believe that just about all of the Democrats were against adjournment because the House had not taken any action on extending the tax cuts,” Upton told HUMAN EVENTS at the time, “and most of them were locked in close races.”
So what would Democrats do now, since the election is passed and they are free from political consequences?
“The lame duck is an opportunity for Democrats in Congress to show they’ve heard the message sent by the American people, who sent us to focus on jobs by stopping the tax hikes and cutting spending,” said Boehner spokesman Steel. But, he quickly added, “Democratic leaders appear be moving legislation on everything except stopping the tax hikes and cutting spending, including immigration, a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ a reorganization of the FDA, and more environmental regulations. One Democratic leader in the House actually said it wasn’t ‘essential’ to stop the tax hikes.”
As for President Obama’s attitude, Steel simply said the President “has yet to declare where he stands on all of this.”