It was a gross dereliction of duty that Congress adjourned until after the election with automatic tax hikes set to slam every taxpayer American come January 1. Americans deserve to know what their tax rates will be next year. Moreover, they deserve to know exactly where Congress stands on the issue before they head to the polls to vote on November 2.
Nonetheless, 210 Democrats voted to adjourn without protecting any Americans from impending tax hikes. Adjournment passed by a single vote, 210 to 209, with Nancy Pelosi herself casting the tiebreaking vote. But an adjournment is a temporary thing, as we learned last recess when Congress rushed back to town to pass a bailout of the states. Democrats should therefore immediately correct their mistakes and call a special session now, before the election, to stop the impending tax hikes.
No one benefits from the failure of Democrats to pass legislation preventing the tax hikes more than Congressional Republicans, who stand to reap the political benefits of Democrats facing voters who are staring at impending tax hikes. The adjournment vote was a political disaster, and although the 39 Democrats who joined Republicans in voting against adjournment inoculated themselves, the other 210 are extremely vulnerable.
So I was pleasantly surprised that House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence is calling for an immediate special session to extend the tax cuts. He is, in effect, offering Democrats a do-over on their disastrous decision to adjourn. Here’s what Pence said:
“I think Congress ought to come back into session before the election and take a straight up-or-down vote on extending all the tax relief so we can give some certainty to businesses around this country about what their tax bill is going to be so they can make decisions and create jobs.”
Pence is exactly right, and Nancy Pelosi would be wise to accept the suggestion, bring Congress back to town, and vote to forestall all of the impending tax hikes. In our fragile economy, the only thing worse than raising taxes on income, investment, death, marriage, and children—all part of the impending tax hikes—is the complete uncertainty about what tax rates will be that now prevails and is paralyzing economic decision-making. We simply can’t afford to delay action until after the election.
During the last recess, Nancy Pelosi rushed the House back into session because of the supposed urgency of one more expensive bailout—for the states, and in particular their unionized government employees.
If members of Congress can leave the campaign trail to pass a bail out, they certainly should be able to do it to prevent an impending tax hike on every American taxpayer.
If Democrats reject Mr. Pence’s suggestion, voters should weigh carefully whether they wish to continue being represented by members of Congress who put their own re-election ahead of letting us know what next year’s tax rates will be.