Setting Priorities

The American EagleThe remains of the Liberals in the US Senate have been given notice by Republican Senators that setting priorities is essential during this lame duck session and have instructed them in what those priorities must be.

With 42 Republican Senators, the GOP has the power to set the Senate’s priorities by refusing to allow cloture on other legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) put forth the marching order in a succinct letter to Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV):

Dear Leader Reid,

The nation’s unemployment level, stuck near 10 percent, is unacceptable to Americans.  Senate Republicans have been urging Congress to make private-sector job creation a priority all year. President Obama in his first speech after the November election said “we owe” it to the American people to “focus on those issues that affect their jobs.”  He went on to say that Americans “want jobs to come back faster.”  Our constituents have repeatedly asked us to focus on creating an environment for private-sector job growth; it is time that our constituents’ priorities become the Senate’s priorities.

For that reason, we write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers. With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities.  While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate’s attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.

Given our struggling economy, preventing the tax increase and providing economic certainty should be our top priority.  Without Congressional action by December 31, all American taxpayers will be hit by an increase in their individual income-tax rates and investment income through the capital gains and dividend rates.  If Congress were to adopt the President’s tax proposal to prevent the tax increase for only some Americans, small businesses would be targeted with a job-killing tax increase at the worst possible time.  Specifically, more than 750,000 small businesses will see a tax increase, which will affect 50 percent of small-business income and nearly 25 percent of the entire workforce.  The death tax rate will also climb from zero percent to 55 percent, which makes it the top concern for America’s small businesses.  Republicans and Democrats agree that small businesses create most new jobs, so we ought to be able to agree that raising taxes on small businesses is the wrong remedy in this economy.  Finally, Congress still needs to act on the “tax extenders” and the alternative minimum tax “patch,” all of which expired on December 31, 2009.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in a constructive manner to keep the government operating and provide the nation’s small businesses with economic certainty that the job-killing tax hike will be prevented.

Liberals, Progressive and other domestic enemies of America are, quite naturally, outraged by this. There’s a lot of special interest, entitlement, and government expansion legislation that they want passed before next – far less friendly to their ilk – session of Congress starts. Completing a series of federal budgets and working on improving private-sector job growth aren’t their priorities.

I also get a kick out of how these Liberals are so careful to only quote a slightly redacted version of the second paragraph of the letter, carefully avoiding it full context.

Senator Reid’s supposed response to the letter sent to him by the GOP was typical of this attitude and included an unhealthy dollop of Reid’s infamous arrogance.

My Republican colleagues…know that the true effect of this letter is to prevent the Senate from acting on many important issues that have bipartisan support. With this letter, they have simply put in writing the political strategy that the Republicans pursued this entire Congress: Namely, obstruct, delay action on critical matters, and then blame the Democrats for not addressing the needs of American people. Very cynical, but very obvious. Very transparent.

Employment is the critical matter for the American people. Not having the federal government “shut down” on Friday, December 3, 2010 is a critical matter to a lot of Americans – especially the core constituency of the Democrats, those long ago made dependent upon government largess for their survival.

As Sen. McConnell’s letter accurately states, in the wake of America’s decision in the 2010 elections even President Obama has finally realized that finding ways to improve private-sector employment – or, at a bare minimum, not enacting legislation that will harm the job market – is something that our government owes to the American people. How the Left can delude themselves into believing that GOP actually abiding by the POTUS’ declaration, and even crediting him for it, is obstructionism or delaying is beyond me.

It seems simple to me. Deadlines determine priorities. The deadline for the budgets are this coming Friday and the deadline for Bush Tax Cuts is December 31. Obviously to any rational person that would make those the top two priorities at this juncture in time.

There’s One Caveat

Letters such as what McConnell sent to Reid are nigh on always couched in strong and partisan rhetoric. That doesn’t normally mean all that much such certain levels of compromise can normally be reached behind closed doors where they’ll do less political harm to the bargainers, and that should be essentially what happens this time, especially in regards to the Bush Era Tax Cuts.

It makes sense to me to extend all of these tax cuts through 2012 because it’s just plain stupid to raise taxes during a recession and expect it not to hurt employment. Similarly, it makes no sense to me to make the tax cuts for the highest personal income brackets permanent and expect to reduce the deficit.

Please remember that it was not intended in either 2001 or 2003 for these tax cuts to be permanent. Such was not the stated intent of either those Congresses when they wrote them or President George W. Bush when he signed them into law.

If Sen. McConnell and the Senate Republicans are going to demand that all the tax cuts be made permanent then, for what little it’s worth, I can’t support them in their desires.

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