Lots of hostages will be taken on tax issues this year

Letters to the Editor |

Apr. 18, 2012 — Your response on hostage-taking in taxes (and conceding to it) is clear and helpful. Well done. But you might also note that there are going to be a lot of other hostages taken during the lame-duck session this year. Not only will the tax cuts expire, so will the temporary fixes. Deadlines loom for [the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate] SGR and [the Alternative Minimum Tax] AMT patches and for an increase in the debt ceiling. I also doubt that the Congress will adopt many (if any at all) full-year appropriations laws or [continuing resolutions] CRs.

That is, of course, no reason for Mr. Obama to cave in again. It’s probably hard to get comprehensive and reasonable policies done in a lame-duck session, but it’s certainly possible to get short-term extenders without capitulating to long-term losses. But the Congress will have a lot more hostages for the press and public to worry over, for bond-raters to threaten, and for headlines to be written about.

Tim Westmoreland, District of Columbia

The writer is a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University and has served as counsel to the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment in the U.S. House of Representatives, senior policy fellow at the Law Center’s Federal Legislation Clinic, director of the Federal Medicaid program, and counsel to the Advisory Committee on Tobacco Policy and Public Health.


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