Tax Debate Undercuts GOP Warnings About "Lame Duck"
While the Republicans' underwhelming "Pledge to America" gobbled up all the media attention, yesterday did bring news that could have a major impact in the run-up to the November elections and beyond. As Talking Points Memo first reported, the Senate will postpone voting on President Obama's middle class tax cuts until after the elections, and the House leadership is also leaning in that direction.
The upshot of these reports, assuming they are accurate, is that one or both chambers of Congress will have to hold a "lame duck" session to prevent the scheduled increase in tax rates at the end of the year. For months, Republicans have been campaigning against the specter of the lame duck, fantasizing about what Democrats could try to pass in November, while also campaigning to preserve the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
In Illinois, where the winner of the special election for Senate will begin serving immediately, Republican candidate Mark Kirk has made the lame duck a central theme of his campaign, even launching a website called SaveUsFromTheLameDuck.com.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has twice introduced a resolution that would forbid the House from reconvening between November and the end of the year. Price's stance is particularly hypocritical given his support for holding a lame duck session in 2006, when Republicans lost the majority. (It should also be noted that 60 current House Republicans went along with Price's resolution despite voting for President Clinton's impeachment during the lame duck session in 1998.)
But it is increasingly apparent that there won't by any tax relief — whether it's President Obama's plan or the Republican proposal — unless it comes after the midterms. If Republicans don't give up their fight to stop the lame duck, they will also be fighting to stop tax cuts for millions of working and middle class families.