Tipton puts party before constituents when it comes to vote on Bush tax cuts

No need to ask how Rep. Scott Tipton will vote on the Senate bill passed last week to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while extending them for tax-payers making less than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples) per year.

As he did when the House played chicken with the economy last year over raising the national debt ceiling, Tipton will vote with his party, regardless of the consequences for the nation.

According to The Pueblo Chieftain. Tipton has already informed his Pueblo-area constituents of his intent to vote against the Senate bill.

So, the question is not how Tipton will vote, but why? Why cast a purely symbolic vote that will only serve to prolong economic uncertainty for our still-faltering economy, rather than find a compromise as the Senate did.

This question is important because many economists fear the uncertainty caused by failure to deal with the Bush tax cuts, due to expire in January 2013, could plunge the country back into recession.

Senate Republicans agreed to a vote decided by a simple majority — a novel idea for this Senate — on both their own proposal to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, and the Democratic plan to continue the tax reductions for middle-class earners while allowing those for the richest Americans to expire in January.

By a vote of 51 to 48, the Democratic plan passed in the Senate.

“Our bill has the support of President Obama ... the Democratic caucus and ... the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. “A majority of Americans, including a significant majority of Republicans, agree taxes should remain low for the middle class and the top 2 percent should pay their fair share to reduce the deficit.”

The Republican proposal to extend all the tax breaks failed on a near-party-line vote, with one Democrat voting with the GOP.

“The vote,” The New York Times said, “exposes the true priorities of the Republicans” because “no Senate Republican agreed to support the middle-class tax cut by itself because they insisted that the rich get one, too.(Actually, the rich would have gotten a tax cut on their first quarter-million of income, but, apparently, that wasn’t enough.)”

Even though majorities of both parties agree on the necessity of continuing the tax breaks for middle-class earners, House Republicans will not bring the Senate bill up for a vote. Instead, they intend to pass their own bill extending all the Bush tax cuts to protect their wealthy donors from paying Clinton-era tax rates.

With both parties dug in, a stalemate could continue until November. By that time, economic uncertainty could plunge the country back into recession. Businesses, unable to plan for an uncertain financial future, will neither invest nor hire until the future of the Bush tax cuts becomes more clear.

According to The New York Times, “To economists, the standoff is maddening. Economic growth slowed to a 1.5 percent crawl from April to June, partly because businesses were already holding off hiring and investment as they wait for Washington to decide what will happen next year, said Allen Sinai of Decision Economics, a forecasting firm in New York. Virtually everyone agrees that allowing all the tax cuts to lapse and cutting spending will send the country back into recession. Yet neither side is even talking compromise.”

Democrats, led by the White House, have urged their Republican colleagues at least to extend the tax breaks for the middle class, since the parties agree on that necessity. As President Obama said, “House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.”

That 98 percent includes the tea party Republicans and other voters who sent Tipton to Congress.

Once they realize the impact of not extending their tax breaks, they may find Republican ideology less compelling than hard reality.

“I’m watching the ‘fiscal cliff’ coming,” Sinai said. “It’s out there for everyone to see. It’s unthinkable. But unthinkable things have been happening.”

If the worst comes, blame Tipton and others like him who put loyalty to their Republican principles and blind allegiance to the House Republican leadership above the best interests of their own constituents and the nation as a whole.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Juntion. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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