Price of inactionPublished 11:16am Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The reality of what Congress has failed to get done in 2012 became clearer — and grimmer — this week with a new study which detailed how tax increases are going to hit most Americans next year and how much the economy is likely to suffer if a mish-mash of tax increases and spending cuts take effect as scheduled on Jan. 1.
Various last-minute actions have staved off temporarily an end to Bush-era tax cuts that are now scheduled to expire at year’s end. But Congress adjourned for its election break without addressing the situation. Likewise, a slate of cost-saving measures, none of which Congress troubled to match up particularly carefully with looming tax increases, will kick in next year. It may well be that both tax increases and federal spending (and service) reductions are necessary for the nation’s health; the trouble is that after debating the matter for a year Congress has made no progress at all on a rational plan for fitting it all together. The result, a new Tax Policy Center study said, will be thousands of dollars of tax increases and a downward kick for the struggling economy.
As has been the case for years, Congress is unable to make a sensible plan because of partisan differences. Democrats want a plan that tilts taxation more toward the wealthy; Republicans want to pull more taxes from lower-income families. They can’t agree on a middle road.
Does anyone who is running for Congress this fall have a plan to do better? Do any of the candidates have a plan for solving the looming tax crisis — for reaching a compromise on which both sides can agree and which will steer the nation on a safe course? Voters ought to be asking candidates because they need to know.