Sweet Deals: Tax Package Set for Senate Vote

The Senate has constructed the legislation to correspond to the Obama-McConnell deal, sweeteners and all.

Via the AP:  Senate Tax Cut Package Filled With Sweeteners, Obama Predicts Passage

The stimulus-sized package includes about $55 billion worth of short-term tax extensions for businesses and individuals. They cover a host of alternative energy credits, a potential salve for environmentally conscious lawmakers, as well as targeted benefits for everything from the film and television industry to mining companies to rum producers.

Reid has set up a test vote on the package for Monday, which could clear the way for a final vote as early as Wednesday.

As one would expect:  to get a compromise through the process, a number of actors have to be placated.  The bill appears likely to pass the Senate and then we will get to see the exact degree to which the House Democrats are in real revolt over the issue.

The size of the overall package is worth noting, as the WSJ (The Number: $858 Billion) noted today:

the Republican-backed tax plan will cost more than the stimulus bill, which priced out at $787 billion.

For starters, extending all of the Bush tax cuts for two years will cost a total $675.2 billion over 10 years, according to a Dec. 3 Congressional Research Service study. Setting the estate tax at 35%, adding an exemption for estates under $5 million, knocking 2 percentage points off employees’ portion of the Social Security payroll tax, and the cost quickly goes up.

Now, the time horizon on the stimulus package was shorter than 10 years, although I am not certain what the exact stretch of time was for that bill (it was multiple years, but hardly a decade).  This is a relevant comparative factor.

However, it is difficult not to see a swirl of politics, ideology, and various other perception filters at work here, given that the stimulus package is supposedly part of our road to ruin, but this package is considered more or less humdrum.   Just a small little afterthought during a lame duck session, right?

One would expect the Tea Party faction to be up in arms about this, yes?

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. john personna says:

    “One would expect the Tea Party faction to be up in arms about this, yes?”


  2. ponce says:

    “For starters, extending all of the Bush tax cuts for two years will cost a total $675.2 billion over 10 years”

    That sentence is beyond my math comprehension.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Extending the current tax rates can only be considered a cost if the money is already spent. Using liberal/progressive/democratic spin for terms on actions only misleads the public as to which and what is true. Since the liars claim they need the money to pay down the national debt, which they created, the tax rates should be raised across the board, as this is not a “rich folks” debt, but a national debt. However a quick study of the past will show democrats nearly always find ways to spend money on new programs or increasing the funding to useless agencies who’s only purpose is to regulate away our freedoms. Scumbag Democrats only wish to use the wealth of the rich to buy the votes of the poor. The sooner this filth is out of office the better. The tax package has not passed yet. My hope? That it does not pass during this congress. The next congress will write a bill which is more friendly to the American people as a whole, not just one sector.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    Terribly ironic that the loon above would protest this deal, as it might lead to his own unemployment checks being extended, unless, of course, he’s finally ready to stop sucking at the government teat…

    And the point about the Tea Party crowd is the most important one…we heard all this weeping and gnashing of teeth about the stimulus package passed by the last Congress but now we have this Republican-approved deal which will blow an even bigger hole in the deficit…surely this must anger the Tea Party crowd, right? Not that there is anything they can do about it…some “revolution”…

  5. Extending the current tax rates can only be considered a cost if the money is already spent

    This gets to the heart of the matter and basic misunderstanding of our budget situation. The money is already spent for all practical purposes: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, two wars, interest on the debt (to name the big ones) are already committed to be spent. We don’t start from zero every year.

  6. Austin says:

    It is true, we don’t start from zero every year. However, Congress (specifically the House) could…eventually. They have the authority to reform the budget process and reform or eliminate Medicare, Medicade, and SS. They have the authority to de-fund wars and cut DOD funding. They have the authority to take the debt seriously by cutting spending and focusing on debt reduction measures. This all within their Constitutional authority.

    Will it happen, I doubt it. They buy into the “the money is already spent” principle as if it were a law of governance. Will it be easy or comfortable? No. Will there be shared sacrifice? Yes. Will there be winners and losers? Yes. Status quo is no longer an option (and has been for many years) . We have to rid the American body of a spreading cancer.

    The old way of doing business has led to national insolvency. Congress must stop looking at our tax dollars as their entitlement program.

  7. One would expect the Tea Party faction to be up in arms about this, yes

    Only if one thought the Tea Party was actually serious about anything they said during the campaign.