While the nation is rightly focused on the election November 6th, the “fiscal cliff” will be upon us shortly. As we approach the end of the year, we have the worst of all worlds when it comes to taxes: the threat of higher rates, extreme complexity, and unprecedented levels of uncertainty. While the Democrats are obsessed with raising taxes, it does not have to be this way. As a rule, Congress should keep legislating in lame ducks to a minimum. It is wrong for elected officials who are no longer accountable to the voters to have an outsized role on their way out the door. Ideally, Congress should extend current policy for an additional period of time while we work on a major tax overhaul. This would provide certainty for businesses and relief to families across America who are worried about how they could afford to send more money to Washington.
The worst possible outcome would be to change the rules twice. Many Democrats have suggested that they would be willing to “go off the cliff” and allow rates on everybody to rise, basically betting that once that happens Republicans will cave and retroactively restore the lower rates for everybody but “the rich.” This is an incredibly cynical strategy that disregards the damage it would cause to the economy. Rather than get bogged down in this game, we should rise above it and talk to the country about our plans for pro-growth tax reform.
Nunnelee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.