In Blue Dog Betrayal, Senate Passes Tax-Free AMT
Harry Reid Blames Republicans for Tax Increase Failure
By Mark I Posted in AMT | Blue Dogs | Congress | Democrats | Harry Reid | paygo | senate | taxes — Comments (17) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
The Senate abruptly reversed course last night and passed a one-year patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax without including any offsetting tax increases wanted by Blue Dog Democrats in the House. The bill passed overwhelmingly 88-5 with all Republicans voting for the measure. The move by the Senate represents another significant backtracking on a Democratic campaign season pledge. Democrats vowed to restore fiscal discipline to Washington by reinstituting pay-as-you-go budget rules that require all tax cuts to be “paid for” by corresponding tax increases or spending cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Searchlight) feebly blamed Republicans for the failure to increase taxes. "We want everyone to know we have tried every alternative possible,” said Reid. Republicans were happy to take the blame, as Sen. John Thune gloated:
They had painted themselves into a corner. That's a huge concession on their part, completely repudiating one of their core principles.
Democrats in the House, most notably in the moderate Blue Dog caucus, were not happy.
Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) was livid. “We run for reelection every two years. They run every six years. Don't try to tell me the Senate can't take a tough vote," he said. Other Blue Dogs joined in the chorus of boos emanating from the House side of the Capitol. Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) put the Senate action in stark terms, saying, “If we waive paygo on this, it will open the door for more financial -- bordering on criminal -- irresponsibility."
Just two days ago, Blue Dog Democrats addressed a letter to Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, vowing to oppose any and all fixes to the AMT that did not include offsets.
We believe that waiving PAYGO, no matter the political pressure, is both fiscally reckless and an abdication of our duties. Under no circumstance will we vote for any piece of legislation that does not meet the requirements of PAYGO, nor will we vote to waive the PAYGO rules to allow for such legislation.
The Blue Dogs are very serious about their insistence on following the paygo rules. One leading Blue Dog, Florida Rep. Allen Boyd reportedly told the Washington Post that he would rather see the AMT balloon out of control than have the Democrats go back on their campaign pledge of enforcing fiscal discipline.
In truth, Democrats aren’t any more interested in fiscal responsibility than past Republican-led Congresses were. But their lust for power caused their leaders’ mouths to write checks that realities of governing can’t cash. Blue Dogs want tax increases every bit as much as more liberal Democrats. Their insistence on paygo rules is only a fig leaf intended to hide this fact from their conservative constituents.
Of course, Republicans will be very happy to sit back and let the Democrats’ ideals clash with reality. All of which bodes well for Republicans in the 2008 Congressional elections. Harry Reid has handed them a ready made and very effective campaign message to run in Blue Dog districts as well as nationally: No matter whether they call themselves liberal, moderate, conservative, or Blue Dogs, the only thing standing between Democrats and their plan to raise taxes, is the Republican Party.