10:55 am CST - December 24, 2010
Posted under The Scoop
By Cong. Mac Thornberry
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON, D.C. – The lame duck is dead –finally. In the last few days of the lame-duck Congress, two major budget bills were considered. Thankfully, the Senate stopped the massive spending bill with 1,000′s of earmarks & special provisions, and the government was funded at roughly current levels through March.
Both the House and the Senate passed the bill to prevent a tax increase on January 1.
The tax bill was certainly not as I would have written it. I would have preferred a smaller, simpler bill that made current tax rates permanent. But, as a whole, I believe that it is better for the country to get the tax issue resolved now, and I voted for it.
It is absolutely essential for the health of the economy and for working families that we stop any tax increase. Ninety-three percent (93%) of the bill extends current tax law or, in the case of the payroll tax cut, provides additional tax relief. The rest of the bill is a one spending provision — a further extension of unemployment benefits which is not offset with other spending cuts.
Some people believe that it would have been better to reject this measure and pass a better bill once the new Congress is convened in January. But, there is no indication that President Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate would pass a better bill, although it could well take many weeks to resolve the issue. In the meantime, paychecks would be cut and the uncertainty would continue.
Importantly, unless something is done before January 1, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) would force 21 million American households to pay higher taxes on their 2010 income for which they begin filing taxes on January 1. That increase would be difficult to reverse even if a bill can be passed later.
In addition, in the new Congress the House of Representatives plans to push significant cuts to federal spending right away.
The new Republican Speaker said just last week that one of our first votes will be to cut nearly every congressional office budget. This will be followed by weekly votes to cut spending of all kinds. That means if the tax matter is not resolved, there is a danger that President Obama would try to leverage the issue to prevent spending cuts.
The tax issue needs to be settled and off the table.
Finally, the country needs to have some degree of certainty in the tax law rather than leave it in doubt for several weeks more. I hope that with the tax increases stopped, we can proceed to fundamental tax reform and a simpler, saner system for us all.
Let me finish by saying that my family, staff, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
I look forward to getting to work in the new Congress this coming January.
A 5th generation Texan, Mac Thornberry serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for 13th District of Texas, where he is a lifelong resident. He currently serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.