The Senate’s Secret Scrooge Agenda

December 3, 2010 10:48

The U.S. economy added an anemic 39,000 jobs this month and the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent. That marks the 19th month in a row that the unemployment has been over 9 percent, a post–World War II record.

From The Heritage Foundation

Today the Labor Department released its monthly jobs report, which showed that the U.S. economy added an anemic 39,000 jobs this month and that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent. That marks the 19th month in a row that the unemployment has been over 9 percent, a post–World War II record.

So how is this lame duck Congress, a Congress that was thoroughly rejected at the polls just last month, greeting this news? By raising taxes on the American people by $700 billion. Is this what the American people want? Not at all. According to Gallup, only 31 percent of Americans believe the best approach for dealing with the economy is raising taxes. The vast majority of Americans (62 percent) believe that the best way to fix the economy is either through deficit reduction (39 percent) or lower taxes (23 percent). But neither of those items is on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D–NV) agenda.

So what legislative gifts is Reid planning on giving the American people this Christmas? No one knows for sure, but Reid’s wish list is long.

New START. Just this week we learned not only that Russia has moved tactical nuclear weapons closer to our NATO European allies but also that the State Department has been negotiating with Russia on missile defense “cooperation.” This after claiming for months that New START in no way limited our missile defense options. But before the ink was even dry on the treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that “linkage to missile defense is clearly spelled out in the accord and is legally binding.” The Heritage Foundation has identified at least five sections of the treaty that limit missile defense. If the Administration has nothing to hide on this issue, then it should have no problem releasing the treaty negotiation records to confirm what U.S. negotiators were saying about missile defense.

Higher Spending. Last night the Senate approved a continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government running through December 18. The Senate could easily pass a CR that would fund the government at current levels through early next year, but that is not want the left wants. A short CR would allow the next Congress to reduce discretionary spending to 2008 levels, thus saving the American taxpayers $100 billion in new debt. But the left wants an omnibus spending bill that will allow them to increase discretionary spending and deliver earmarks to their constituents.

Higher Taxes. Lost in the debate over personal income tax rates are the slew of other taxes set to rise on January 1. Taxes on dividends, capital gains, and estates are just some of the higher tax rates Americans will face under President Obama’s tax plan. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis has estimated the impacts of the Obama tax hikes and found they would (1) decrease inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.1 trillion by 2020; (2) decrease business investment by $33 billion a year; (3) decrease personal savings by $38 billion in 2011 alone; (4) decrease consumer spending by $706 billion through 2020; and (5) kill an average of 693,000 jobs a year through 2020.

Higher Energy Prices. The left is still desperate to appease its environmentalist base, so Reid has also promised a vote on nationwide renewable electricity standards (RES), too. Mandated renewable electricity necessarily costs more than traditional electricity, because otherwise a mandate would not be necessary to force people to use it. And what would these higher energy prices do to the economy? A Heritage Foundation analysis of 22.5 percent RES by 2025 found that (1) household electricity prices would jump 36 percent; (2) industry prices would rise by 60 percent; (3) national income (GDP) would be cut by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035; and most importantly (4) RES would kill more than 1 million jobs.

Amnesty. No leftist wish list would be complete without legislation providing amnesty to illegal immigrants. This week Reid introduced yet another version of the DREAM Act, which would provide amnesty to any illegal alien who attended any college for just two years. None of these amnesty proposals has been reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and none of them has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Reid is clearly a firm believer in the Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) maxim: You have to vote for the bill to find out what is in it.

This would be an ambitious leftist wish list any time of the year, but cramming it all into four weeks—just one month after the American people thoroughly rejected the left’s agenda at the polls—is particularly audacious. The only way Reid can get all this done before the next Congress is sworn in is to repeat the exact same backroom deals he used to get Obamacare passed last Christmas Eve. The American people can expect to see more Cornhusker Kickbacks, Louisiana Purchases, Gator Aids, and Cash for Clotures.

Reid should stop playing Santa now and listen to his colleague from Nebraska, Sen. Ben Nelson: “Most of the [legislation] being dealt with right now should be held over until 2011, because we should be focused on jobs, taxes, and debt reduction. … I think we can hold off on START; I don’t want it to crowd out taxes, debt reduction, and jobs.” With unemployment at 9.8% the American people have received enough surprise gifts from this Democratic Congress.

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