UPDATE: The latest on those tax cuts gumming everything up, from Talking Points Memo:
Senate Democrats are planning to force a vote on the House’s just-passed middle-income tax cut bill and a second package to let the Bush tax cuts expire above a new, $1 million tax bracket, according to a Democratic aide.
The move is a sign of the leadership’s frustration — though both packages will likely be filibustered by Republicans, Dems are loath to simply wait for negotiations with Republicans and the White House to end on terms they suspect will be much more favorable to the GOP than to their own party…
As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Gary Harmon reports–a rare treat these days outside the Sentinel’s recently-erected paywall:
A food-safety measure described by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., as needed to “finally bring food safety in this country into the 21st century” seems mired in constitutional issues that could require a second vote…
The sticking point for S.B. 501, the Food Safety Modernization Act, is a provision to establish fees intended to raise revenues, which are interpreted as new taxes. Any bill increasing taxes must originate in the House, and the House version of the bill contains no similar provision.
House Republicans don’t have the votes to prevent adoption of the Senate-approved measure, but the 42 Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster a second vote.
The 42 Republicans wrote Wednesday to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying they would block any measure until the Senate votes on extending the Bush tax cuts and approves a continuing resolution extending the current budget.
As Harmon explains, both Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall are okay with extending the Bush tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 a year. Allowing them to expire for higher income taxpayers would result in hundreds of billions in reduced deficits over the next decade, while not impacting the middle class in the least. It’s important that the line items being fought over here are clearly understood, because once they are, the moral questions that follow should be bipartisan. Isn’t everyone supposed to be worried about the “Hugh Jidette?”
And who isn’t sick of hearing about E. coli in their salad?
The standoff in the U.S. Senate very much reminds us of the ongoing situation in El Paso County, the state’s foremost bastion of Grover Norquist inspired “drown government in the bathtub” conservative ideology–where voters turn down even modest tax hikes, and the county hasn’t been able to fund the health department to adequately inspect restaurants in several years. In 2008, El Paso County paid for their choice with the highest incidence of food-borne illness in the state.
Sometimes, the consequences really are this plain to see.