Now that the elections are over, Congress can no longer put off a decision on extending the Bush-era tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Leading Democrats, who control the House until the GOP takes over in the new year, insist it's time to cut off the breaks for the wealthiest two percent of taxpayers, while extending them for the middle class. Republicans are warning that they won't back down from their demand that the reductions be extended for the wealthy, too. Is it possible that both sides will dig in, and the tax cuts will run out for everyone? (Watch a Fox Business discussion about the fax cuts' future)
The coming showdown really could kill the cuts: In this toxic political atmosphere, says Michael Scherer at Time, anything could happen. Republicans are united in their insistence that the tax cuts must be extended for everyone. Democrats say it's unwise to continue giving the wealthy breaks that will cost the government $700 million over the next decade — but enough senators in their caucus are wavering that the Democrats can't win. If they don't back down, the cuts will expire.
"The coming tax cut showdown"
Republicans would never do that: Despite all the bluster, Republicans have no choice but to give in, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. The Democrats still have powerful majorities in the lame-duck Congress — they can simply call a vote on their proposal to make the cuts permanent for all but the rich. If Senate Republicans filibuster the bill, "they will have killed the only opportunity available to keep Bush-era tax rates alive, and will be responsible for bringing back Clinton-era rates for everyone."
"Dems still have big majorities for the lame-duck session"
Democrats ignore the people's will at their peril: Voters want Republicans to stick to their guns, says Michael Tanner at National Review. Everyone in America knew the GOP wanted to preserve the Bush tax cuts for everyone. "Voters listened and said pretty unequivocally: That's exactly what we want." It would be foolhardy for either party to ignore the message of the midterms, so if the Democrats want to have a prayer in 2012 they'll show they listened in 2010.
"Yes, it's a mandate"