No Budget, No Appropriations, No Action on Tax Increases

By October 8, 2010Economy, Taxation

John Engler, president and CEO of the National Associaton of Manufacturers, spoke to the NAM’s Board of Directors on Wednesday, assessing the political and economic consequences of the just-recessed 111th Congress. He observed:

You think about elections as sort of a performance review. Congress is going to have a pretty hard time arguing that they deserve to keep their jobs.

Think about this: They didn’t pass a budget. They failed to enact a single appropriations bill. Not one. We’ve got the return to the killer 2001 tax rates – that’s looming. The estate tax is poised to go back up to 55 percent, and we’ve got no R&D tax credit. Other than that …

Judging from his Washington Post column today, Charles Krauthammer must have been in the audience and been inspired by Engler. In “The Colbert Democrats,” Krauthammer notes Congress’ failure to enact budgets and appropriations bills and elaborates:

Congress adjourned without even a vote — nay, without even a Democratic bill — on the expiring Bush tax cuts. This is the ultimate in incompetence. After 20 months of control of the White House and Congress — during which they passed an elaborate, 1,000-page micromanagement of every detail of American health care — the Democrats adjourned without being able to tell the country what its tax rates will be on Jan. 1.

It’s not just income taxes. It’s capital gains and dividends, too. And the estate tax, which will careen insanely from 0 to 55 percent when the ball drops on Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Nor is this harmless incompetence. To do this at a time when $2 trillion of capital is sitting on the sidelines because of rising uncertainty — and there is no greater uncertainty than next year’s tax rates — is staggeringly irresponsible.

No, Krauthammer really wasn’t in attendance — he’d be welcome at the NAM, to be sure — and really, Krauthammer and Engler are only stating the obvious. The really obvious. The outrageously obvious: Congress failed to act on taxes.

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