Senate Passes Tax Package

The Senate has approved the tax deal reached between President Clinton and the Republicans, sending it along to the House of Representatives.  Former president Barack Obama hailed the agreement as a “win for middle-class families and a win for our economy.”

Fox News reports, “The Senate approved the tax extenders that would add nearly a trillion dollars to the U.S. debt in a 81-19 vote.”  What?  There wasn’t any spending involved in reaching that trillion-dollar figure… like, say, extensions to unemployment benefits?  Is Fox News subcontracting its news writing to the Huffington Post now?

Those unemployment benefits most certainly did add to the national debt, despite the best efforts of Tom Coburn (R-OK), who tried adding an amendment that would hold the Democrats to their long-abandoned “pay-go” promise of paying for new programs with cuts in existing spending.  The Democrats made their opinion of spending cuts clear yesterday, by trying to shove a bloated omnibus spending bill down America’s throat.

Democrat Peter Welch of Vermont celebrated the passage of the bill with some more of that “hostage” rhetoric which has done so much to elevate our political discourse: “It’s too few jobs and too much debt… there’s about a $200 billion ransom here that’s being paid to get the support of the Senate Republicans and it’s going from bad to worse… The estimates are that the cost of each job is going to be $400,000 if we borrow in order to finance that recovery.”  Fortunately the voters were careful to ensure the next Congress will include fewer people who think government creates jobs out of thin air.  Welch was seen nervously looking over his shoulder as he left the Senate, fearful of the “No Labels” strike team David Frum has surely dispatched to bring him to justice for this “ransom” nonsense.

The bill is on its way to Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives, which can’t wait to pop the hood and start tinkering with its engine.  They received a stern warning from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said, “If the House Democratic leadership decides to make partisan changes, they will ensure that every American taxpayer will see a job-killing tax hike on January 1st.” 

There are both Republicans and Democrats who will likely ignore McConnell’s warning.  The Republicans want the Bush tax rates to be made permanent, something Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) tried to do with an amendment that was defeated 37-63.  The tax saga continues, ten days before Christmas.