In a stark display of misguided priorities, Democrats in Congress are holding tax relief for 160 million Americans hostage to their unwavering desire to raise taxes on wealthier Americans.
Republicans in Congress want to extend the current payroll tax relief next year. Without that extension, the average U.S. household would face a tax increase of $1,000. Do you have a spare $1,000 to send to Uncle Sam in this weak economy?
The Republicans want to make up for the short-term loss of revenue from the tax cut extension by cutting spending from the federal budget. After all, with a $15 trillion national debt -- and annual budgets of well over $3 trillion -- it is ridiculous to think Congress can't find a comparatively small $112 billion in spending cuts to pay for the payroll tax cut in the short term.
But Democrats in the Senate will not hear of it. They insist that to fund payroll tax relief, a 3.25 percent "tax surcharge" should be placed on the wealthy -- many of whom run the small businesses that provide most of the jobs in America.
It is unclear how Senate Democrats think they will boost our economy and help to create jobs by seizing more of the income of the very people who employ so many Americans -- and who pay a disproportionately high share of the taxes to begin with.
And why such fierce resistance among Democrats to spending cuts? The kinds of things Republicans want to cut to provide funds to extend payroll tax relief are scarcely essential services such as national defense.
For instance, they are looking at reducing costly farm subsidies and finding savings in federal workers' retirement benefits.
Farm subsidies are not even constitutional! Why should any member of Congress deny the American people needed tax relief in order to protect government agricultural payments -- particularly payments that go to huge corporate farms rather than to family farmers?
Do Democrats in the Senate really believe that every penny of our massive federal budget is so necessary that nothing -- nothing at all -- can be cut in order to ensure that millions of U.S. households are not hit with a $1,000 tax increase?
The New York Times reported that Democrats acknowledged that the "tax surcharge" they want to place on the wealthy "is little more than a stunt" to contrast themselves with Republicans.
But we doubt most Americans think political stunts are appropriate when they face the threat of a major tax increase because of Democrats' unwillingness to cut spending. And it's hard to see why Democrats think such a "contrast" with Republicans will put them in a favorable light.