"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Clyburn Says Preventing Tax Hikes Not “Essential” As Dem Priorities Continue To Be Wildly Out Of Touch‏

November 19th, 2010 by mopns · No Comments

After a week of demonstrating their priorities still aren’t aligned with those of the American people, even in the wake of an historic election, Democrats in Congress still don’t seem to have learned anything. Most Americans are concerned with the economy, and one of the best things that could be done from Washington to help would be to ensure that Americans are not hit with across-the-board tax increases in January. Extending current tax policy will prevent Americans from facing a tax hike when they can least afford it and will finally provide some certainty for job creators. Yet Democrats still refuse to make this a priority.

National Journal’s Major Garrett reports today, “Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the new No. 3 leader of House Democrats in the 112th Congress, said it’s not ‘essential’ for Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts because if all income taxes go up as scheduled on January 1, ‘you’ve got a big deficit reduction taking place, which is also a good thing.’” Is Clyburn indicating it’s not a problem for Americans to wake up to massive tax increases on New Year’s Day? As The Washington Post notes, “Unless Congress acts, virtually every taxpayer will be hit with higher taxes in January that could leave monthly paychecks hundreds of dollars lighter.”

Even though they huddled for hours yesterday, The Washington Post reports, “President Obama and congressional Democrats failed to agree on a strategy Thursday for extending an array of expiring tax breaks, with the party badly divided over whether to temporarily extend the cuts for all taxpayers or stick with their pledge to protect only the middle class.”

Some Democrats are acknowledging they can’t agree on what to do. “‘There’s not a consensus,’ said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), emerging from an afternoon meeting at which Senate Democrats wrestled with the tax issue for nearly three hours, discussing numerous options without reaching agreement. ‘I think there’s a reality here, which is that while it might be best to continue the middle-class tax cuts and raise taxes on higher-income people, the votes are not there to do that,’ Lieberman said, adding that he would support continuing all the cuts for two years to avoid an across-the-board tax hike.”

But Democrats were able to agree on something, according to The Post: “During a meeting at the White House, Democrats resolved to stage a vote on the plan that they have backed for months, which formed a key plank in Obama’s presidential campaign platform: Extend the tax breaks for families earning less than $250,000 a year while letting tax rates rise for wealthier taxpayer.”

In other words, Democrat leaders have decided to “stage a vote” for which other Democrats acknowledge “the votes are not there to do that.” As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, “Votes structured for symbolic reasons in December won’t prevent a tax hike in January. It’s not enough to talk about the problem of the looming tax hike on families and hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country—we have to fix it. And fixing this problem should be our priority in the limited time remaining this year—not forcing votes on the liberal wish list.”

And yet, Democrats have continued to hold votes on and push liberal priorities that simply are not the chief concerns of Americans. The Senate has now spent two days on a bill to reorganize and expand the powers of the FDA, after a show vote on a bill designed to help trial lawyers. And according to The Washington Post, “Thirteen Democratic senators signaled strong support Thursday for ending the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and said they are willing to work well into December to ensure passage of a defense bill that would end the ban on gays openly serving in uniform.” Meanwhile, President Obama is still pushing for ratification of a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. The New York Times writes, “Just two weeks after an election that left him struggling to find his way forward, President Obama has decided to confront Senate Republicans in a make-or-break battle over arms control that could be an early test of his mettle heading into the final two years of his term.”

It’s astonishing how out of touch Democrats remain. Their leaders are saying preventing tax hikes on all Americans in the middle of a recession not “essential,” preferring instead to stage show votes that rank-and-file members acknowledge won’t succeed. At the same time, other Democrats are talking up things like repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” while the President is demanding ratification of his nuclear weapons treaty before Congress adjourns.

These priorities are baffling.

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