A developing problem with this secret compromise among leaders in the House, Senate and White House with regard to extending tax cuts for all is the fact that nobody has seen the agreement. Where is it? Why can’t the American people see it? We have read news reports about what is in the agreement, yet we don’t have a copy of it.
I just called sources in the Senate, and they tell me that rank-and-file Members of the Senate have not seen a copy of the compromise. Senator Jon Kyl (R–AZ) told National Review Online yesterday that the tax deal could be taken up “as early as tomorrow.” Politico reported yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said “I’m hoping that in the next day or two that we can be on that. In the meantime, we’re going to try to work through the other things that we have.” This bill could be on the Senate floor later today.
When are we the people going to be allowed to see this deal cut by elites? When are other Senators going to see the deal? Most likely it will be the moment the legislation hits the Senate floor.
This belies both parties’ promise of transparency. Both Republicans and Democrats have complained about procedures that don’t allow 72 hours for Senators and House Members (and the American people) to review bills. It seems that leaders in both the House and Senate are prepared to hold hands and pass this bill without the input of the American people.
Politico reports that a “few more” tax provisions need to be added to buy votes to get the bill over the 60-vote hurdle of a filibuster:
But three senior Senate Democratic aides conceded that [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D–NV] would ultimately find enough Democrats to break a filibuster, if they are able to add a few more tax proposals targeted as the middle class and as long as Republicans continue to stand behind the deal.
The Hill reports that Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA) wants the extension of unemployment benefits to be extended even more.
Harkin would like to see unemployment benefits extended for two years instead of 13 months, as Obama and GOP leaders have agreed. Harkin said the extension of unemployment benefits should mirror the two-year extension of tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest individuals and families.
Politico also reports that Senator Reid is trying to add online poker gambling to this legislation:
Reid is trying to use the tax cut package President Barack Obama brokered with Republicans to legalize online poker, POLITICO has learned—a move that could further complicate the deal Obama announced Monday.
What else is on the table to be added to the bill? We will not know until they are voting on it. Remember Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D–CA) words that “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it”? It looks like the American people will find out what is in the bill well after it is signed into law.
Yesterday, the House passed a rules change (215-194) on something called “Marshall Law.” The House passed H.Res. 1752, the Same Day Consideration Rule. This rule waives all transparency requirements in the House and allow bills to come up in one day, without any hearings, significant debate, or any time to review.
Here is how this may play out over the next 72 hours. The Senate is expected to take up an existing tax bill on the Senate calendar. They will strike all the provisions in the bill and then schedule a vote on the complete substitute to that bill. Senators Bernie Sanders (I–VT) and Jim DeMint (R–SC) have pledged to filibuster the bill; therefore this may extend the amount of time that the amendment is considered on the Senate floor. If the Senate passes the bill, then it is sent to the House. With Marshall Law adopted in the House, House leadership can pass that bill in one day. It is possible that this radical change in tax law could be on the President’s desk by Friday or Saturday.
Whether you are for this plan or against it as reported in the press, it is an outrage that House and Senate elites are trying to pass it without the participation of the American people. Even though Obamacare did contain many provisions that were inserted into the bill at the last minute, the American people were allowed to debate and participate in that process for several months. We just found out about the Obama tax deal this week, yet some in the Senate want to vote on it before the end of the week.
This act by Congress would violate transparency promises and the idea that the American people have a right to participate in the legislative process. This process needs to be slowed so that average Americans can grant consent to their elected officials to move forward with this package of tax items, which reportedly approaches a scored cost to the federal government of about $900 billion.