I'm still digesting the election returns, but on thing is looking surer: The expiring Bush tax cuts are likely to be extended in their entirety, at least for the short-term.
Although recent polls indicate that the American public is not that committed to keeping the low tax rates for the country's wealthiest citizens, Capitol Hill sure seems to like the idea.
I'm not saying the Congressional support is because wealthy campaign donors help Representatives and Senators keep their jobs. I'm just stating a fact. Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are more enamored of the complete tax cut package.
And it looks like three members elected yesterday are on the tax-cuts-for-all side, too.
Special Senate elections: While most of the new members of Congress will take their seats in January 2011, new Senators from Delaware, West Virginia and Illinois will be sworn in shortly as members of the 111th Congress.
That means they will be part of the lame-duck session during which tax cuts (and other tax legislation) will be decided.
Why do they get to come in early? They were elected to serve their predecessors' unfilled terms.
Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who takes over the late Robert Byrd's seat, and Chris Coons of Delaware, who won the seat vacated by Joe Biden, have each voiced support for an extension of all the Bush tax cuts.
And it's a good bet that Republican Mark Kirk, whose election yesterday fulfills a federal court order in connection with the Land of Lincoln Senate seat vacated by President Obama, supports all of the former GOP president's tax cuts, too.
A quick explanation about Kirk's spot for all of y'all remembering Roland Burris. Burris, a Democrat, had been appointed by then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill Obama's empty seat, but a federal court subsequently found that the state erred in not holding a special election.
So in addition to winning a six-year U.S. Senate term in Tuesday's election, Kirk also was the victor of the requisite special election. The Illinois Secretary of State has moved up the date for certifying the special election to get Kirk voting as soon as possible.
Democratic Senators for all tax cuts: Not only is the Democratic majority in the upper legislative body now one member less, several sitting Senators from the president's party have already come out in favor of keeping all the Bush tax cuts in place.
According to Congressional vote counters, Democrats willing to extend the 33 percent and 35 percent tax rates for wealthier taxpayers include Evan Bayh of Indiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who caucuses with Democrats, also is for keeping all the lower tax rates in place.
In addition, Democratic Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana favor short-term extensions of all the rates.
And California's Barbara Boxer has said she "would review" proposals to keep tax rates at current levels for families making more than the $250,000 per year threshold.
Add to the mix VP Biden's pre-election comments that the Obama Administration is "open to speak to the Republicans" about the "possibility" of extending the tax cuts for wealthier Americans, and it looks like that will indeed happen.
Tax breaks for how long? The only question is how long will the low tax rates for the rich be in place?
Deficit concerns could mean that this lame-duck session will simply kick the tax can down the road a bit, approving a short-term, say through 2011, extension. That would leave it to the new 112th Congress to make hard tax and budget decisions. Sound familiar?
- No votes on tax cuts until November
- OMG! What will happen to my tax bill if the Bush tax cuts expire!?!
- Tax cuts, or hikes, for all
- Obama advisers say 'yes' to all tax cuts
- Democrat vs. Republican tax cut graphics
- Democrats who support Bush tax cuts
- Representing the rich ... or not
- Debunking 5 Bush tax cut myths
- Your 2011 tax burden revised
- Yet another tax what-if calculator
- Potential Republican budget cuts
- Tax cut timing could be costly
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