The lame duck session of Congress is more of a dead duck. Progress on most bills is being blockaded by Republicans who first want resolution on restoring the so-called Bush-era tax cuts. Without action, virtually all Americans will face the largest-ever tax increase in history next month. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is lashing out at Republicans for stalling action other important legislation.
“If that’s the way they want to play it, then I think we ought to show the American people just what they’re up to,” Harkin says. “That means, I think we oughta’ be here this weekend and next weekend and Christmas Eve and I think if need be, we’ll be here Christmas Day also.” Members of both parties seem to agree that the expiring tax cuts need to be restored for lower and middle-class taxpayers. Harkin says the problem is that Republicans are pushing for $100,000 tax breaks for people who make more than a million dollars a year.
“Do the American people really want that?” Harkin asks. “I don’t think so. I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar the American people want a fair tax system. They want the wealthy to pay their fair share and that’s what we’re trying to get done here, but the Republican leadership says ‘no.’ They want the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.”
Due to the debate on taxes, Harkin says the Senate is deadlocked over a separate plan to extend jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed for up to 99 weeks. “I just think it’s outrageous,” Harkin says. “We have a lot of things on our plate here. We have a food safety bill that looks like we’re going to have to put through again because of a minor mistake. They’re going to block that. They’re going to block unemployment benefits that we need to get out to people now. This is the Christmas season. What the Republican leadership is doing here is just saying to heck with the rest of the country, as long as we take care of the wealthiest.”
The Democrats’ plan to extend unemployment benefits would cost 56-billion dollars over the next year. Republicans want cuts elsewhere in the federal budget to make up for that cost.