Some folks have a tradition of eating pork on New Year's Day--but in Congress, they prefer passing pork. As part of the sweeping, 150-page tax deal reached yesterday, members proved they were just as intent on avoiding financial responsibility as they were the fiscal cliff. It seems the bill that was supposed to extend our tax rates also extended billions of dollars to the Democrats' closest pals. Today, while 77.1% of households watch their taxes skyrocket, the President's friends are toasting the goodies tucked away in the bill's fine print.
The Democrats' belated Christmas presents included $430 million in tax perks for Hollywood, $331 million for railroad operators, $222 million for Puerto Rico and Virgin Island rum producers, $70 million for NASCAR, $59 million for algae growers, $4 million for electric motorcycle makers, and even $15 million for asparagus growers. If this is what President Obama calls a "step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy," Americans had better buckle up.
Unfortunately, the billions in liberal back-scratching are probably the least of voters' concerns in Congress's new compromise. Without any real spending cuts or entitlement reform, this deal doesn't begin to address the country's fiscal problems--and, in many cases, may actually exacerbate them.
For starters, the legislation takes direct aim at married couples, saddling many of these homes with hundreds of dollars of new penalties. Though details are not clear yet, in effect, the deal leaves joint tax filers with less than twice the standard deduction for individuals. It's a ridiculous proposition, especially since the family the greatest generator of human capital--and thus, one of the biggest engines of economic growth. Discouraging marriage only creates more government dependence (something FRC's Ken Blackwell and Henry Potrykus explain at length in their new op-ed).
On top of the tax hikes for individuals and couples making more than $400,000 and $450,000, the middle class (which the President promised to spare) will see a chunk of their paychecks disappear. The Social Security tax jumped by 2%, and that means Americans can expect to take home anywhere from $50 to $189 less each month. Add that to the wave of ObamaCare taxes starting in 2013, and suddenly, the legislation doesn't seem like such a good deal after all.
Of course, members like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cheered the bargain as a "happy start to the New Year." Like some Republicans, she believes the bill's $25.1 billion in spending cuts is something to be proud of. And it would be--if Congress hadn't increased spending by $330 billion in the same bill.
Obviously, President Obama has no intention of addressing Washington's out-of-control spending. And by voting for this package, 346 members of the House and Senate are giving the green light to finance his liberal agenda and stick taxpayers and their children with the bill. That's a nice how-do-you-do for the next Congress, which is not only inheriting the debt crisis, but the messy negotiations over the military's budget. Under Tuesday's compromise, leaders tried to avoid another fight by kicking the sequestration can two months down the road, ensuring that the headaches of this deal linger long after the Congress that passed it.
From Family Research Council