Despite their plans, Democrats may not be able to accomplish everything on their agenda before Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 1. Last week, all 42 Republican senators decided to block legislative action until Congress extended the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone — a topic that requires debate, not a line drawn in the sand. This rash decision creates gridlock in Congress. It’s the job of Congress to create legislation —and Senate Republicans have flat-out refused to do their jobs. Republican senators need to stop focusing on party interests and work with Democrats to create the best solution for all constituents.
On Dec. 2, the U.S. House voted to extend the Bush tax cuts for families that make under $250,000 each year. On Saturday, Senate Republicans rejected the bill. According to a Dec. 1 New York Times article, Republican senators plan to block all legislation until all of the tax cuts were extended — including those for households that make more than $250,000 each year. This plan was outlined in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nev.) Wednesday that was signed by all 42 Republicans in the Senate. Later that day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) gave a speech scolding Democrats and President Barack Obama for “ignoring the midterm election results.”
The tax cuts Republicans want aren’t a good idea given the current economic situation. While the Democrats’ proposal would add an additional $3 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, the Republicans’ proposal would add $4 trillion. The Republican tax cuts would only better households that can afford to pay greater taxes and would simultaneously hurt the rest of the country’s economic standing. The $1 trillion added to the deficit would put further — and unnecessary — pressure on this country’s already unmanageable budget.
But more disturbing than the cuts is the Republican’s attitude. Their approach is frankly disappointing. Members of Congress are elected and paid with taxpayer money to pass legislation on behalf of their constituents. Threatening to block all legislation is irresponsible, particularly at the end of a session. Other important legislation — like bills pertaining to the ban on LGBT people in the military and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty — is now at a standstill as a result of the Republican’s childish behavior.
The partisan bickering in Washington D.C. is strongly dividing the nation. In rough times, Congress needs to work efficiently, compromise and pass comprehensive legislation. Americans want and need to see policy made. Members of Congress are elected to help advance the country, not prevent its development. Republican senators are putting their party’s interests before the well-being of the nation and its citizens. This open-ended and unproductive threat is unacceptable.
The United States is currently plagued by overwhelming unemployment, thousands of troops fighting overseas, schools being closed across the country due to a lack of funding and poor infrastructure. Instead of implementing a petty and juvenile stoppage of all bills, Republican senators need to refocus their attention on writing and passing essential legislation.