This Week in Washington - December 6, 2010

Late last week, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution funding the government until December 18th. Congress has two big items left on the agenda — tax cuts and an appropriations bill funding the federal government into next year.  Liberals would like to take up other issues, yet taxes and spending are the only two issues that Congress has to get done before they finally end this Lame Duck session.

The Senate has no votes scheduled for today.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that he shall file cloture on a series of issues, including the DREAM Act, a 9-11 health bill, a bill to force collective bargaining for police and firefighter in certain states and some money for Social Security recipients.  Republican has pledged to filibuster any and all legislation not relating to either the final tax agreement or appropriations bills, therefore cloture votes on these issues are expected to fail.

The House has no votes scheduled for today.  The House has 13 Suspension votes for Tuesday and 6 Suspension votes scheduled for Wednesday.  The House will be working on a Continuing Resolution to fund the government into next year and a food safety bill, as a result of Senatorial incompetence in the passage of the last food safety bill.  The Senate passed a bill containing tax measures violating the Constitutional mandate that all tax measures originate in the House.  Maybe these guys should Read the Constitution.

The effort by the House and Senate last week to raise taxes on job creators failed and this week negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill should be completed. 

I was quoted in the L.A. Times last night stating the urgency on both Republicans and Democrats to cut a deal.

Both Republicans and Democrats seem to be boxed into a deal.  Democrats seem terrified of being blamed for taxes going up on Jan. 1 of next year. Republicans seem terrified of being called obstructionists. They are concerned that they will be accused of bad faith going into a new Congress.

It seems like a deal is going to be cut, yet the devil is in the details.  If the White House is asking for too much, one would think that a Republican controlled House could easily send a bill keeping taxes low on all Americans to the Senate as the first order of business in the next Congress.  Let the liberals filibuster tax relief for all Americans in the next Congress if they demand too much in exchange for a 2 or 3 year extension of existing tax rates.

McClatchy reports Obama Administration officials outlined a wish list of items for negotiation:

Careful not to make a linkage before Saturday’s vote, these officials outlined about $150 billion worth of tax cuts and credits that are set to expire. They include unemployment insurance and the alternative minimum tax, which threatens to hit tens of millions of upper middle-class earners if Congress doesn’t pass another fix.  A host of recovery-related tax measures are also be on the table, including tax incentives for small businesses to hire new workers, tax help for college students and tax credits for companies engaged in research and development.

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) mapped out on Face the Nation (via McClatchy) the Republican negotiating position:

Appearing on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” Senate Republican whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said that compromise talks are focusing on another extension of unemployment insurance and an “extension for some period of time” of the Bush-era tax cuts. Talk is now centered on a two-year extension, perhaps three years.
Republicans are willing to negotiate an agreement of tax cuts for all for 2 or 3 years in consideration of an extension of unemployment benefits and some other items.  Conservatives are worried that if unemployment benefits are extended, they need to be offset by real cuts in other programs.  Also, Conservatives don’t want consideration of the fatally flawed New START Treaty as to be part of any agreement.