President Barack Obama recently invited both Democrats and Republicans to the White House to debate the upcoming tax decisions that Congress will have to make.
Republicans would like the Bush-era tax cuts extended to all Americans. Democrats, citing the $700 billion price tag, think the tax cuts should not be extended to the highest-earning Americans.
According to an ABC news report, Obama also asked Congress to extend unemployment benefits that were expiring, and tax credits for college tuition, tax breaks for working families and a tax cut for business that hire unemployed workers were also discussed.
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the meeting occurred before the meeting even took place. Republican leaders made it clear they would say “no” to any bill proposed by any member of Congress that did not address giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.
It is never popular among the populace to raise taxes for any segment of the population. Democrats, however, believe the deficit should be addressed first, now that the economy has been stabilized, for the most part, instead of giving tax breaks to America’s wealthiest.
Republicans, on the other hand, have an obvious contradiction in their platform. They believe tax breaks should be returned to the extremely low rates of the Bush presidency for all Americans. They also say their first goal is to address the deficit. Well it will cost the federal government $700 billion to give a tax break to the wealthiest Americans.
Thursday the bill extending tax cuts to all Americans making under $250,000 a year was passed by the House, but Republican senators have made it clear they will not pass the bill until it includes those making more than $250,000.
Such a move would raise the federal deficit significantly. Republicans are in favor of this, despite claiming they will not work with Democrats unless the Democrats balance the budget. This is quite a contradiction.
Those who follow politics closely are likely torn about whether Republicans are continuing the obstructionism they have practiced since Obama took office or simply following very narrow principles. CNN wrote that political pundits are torn along ideological lines on the GOP’s tactics and the impact those tactics would have.
Republicans capitalized at midterms by being more unified in their message than Democrats, who were caught off guard by the Republican offensive. As a result, Americans swept into office the very political party that sent the country into a deficit, and they have now instructed that party to fix the deficit.
In a best-case scenario, Republicans and Democrats would join hands to work on tax and jobs bills, and restore Americans’ confidence in the economy. In a worst-case scenario, Republican obstructionism and lack of bipartisanship leads to two years of gridlock, and in two years, we are no better off than we are now. I’m betting more on gridlock and obstruction, but let’s hope they can, at the very least, meet somewhere in the middle.
Alex Apple is a freshman political science and journalism double major from Nashville, Tenn.