Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

A Compromise We Can All Agree On: Tax Cuts For All

Dec 1, 2010

What a difference 34 years doesn’t make.

The following words appeared in a Time Magazine editorial about the federal government in 1976:

“The art of compromise, which is essential to democracy, seems to have gone out of style in recent years of angry all-or-nothing politics…the result is often no legislation, and many issues are left to fade or fester.”

A stalemate in Congress is nothing new. We certainly cannot afford one now – especially since the tax cuts that went into effect in 2001-03 are due to expire at the end of the month. 

So to my colleagues in Congress, how’s this for an ice-breaker we can all support? Let’s give everyone a tax cut.
The lady working behind the deli counter? She’ll get a tax cut. Donald Trump? He’ll get a tax cut, too.

This has been my prevailing thought as I proposed a compromise for extending the tax cuts. My plan would continue the cuts for five years on the first $200,000 of an every individual’s income or $250,000 of every family’s annual income.

So, theoretically, if Mr. Trump files an individual tax return, the tax cut will apply to the first $200,000 he made this year.

This week, the Joint Committee on Taxation – the nonpartisan, top Congressional authority that assists the House and the U.S. Senate on tax legislation – gave its preliminary review of my plan.  The committee confirmed that my plan would not only cost less – by about $1.5 trillion – than the Republicans’ 10-year across-the-board tax cut extension, it would also allow Congress to address the national deficit.

Renewing the tax cuts for the middle class is an idea that had strong bipartisan support in Congress before the last recess. No wonder. Nearly every American would benefit from this extension. The $200,000/$250,000 threshold applies to 98 percent of individuals and small businesses. 

Achieving America’s economic potential begins with a revitalized middle class. An obvious first step is to continue to minimize the tax burden on working American people and families.

We must also help benefit seniors’ retirement holdings and other long-term investments, which is why I also propose a five-year extension of the current tax rates on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends. 

Finally, my plan calls for the current tax rates for individuals and joint filers making under $500,000 annually to be extended for one year. The result would be that 99 percent of all individuals and small businesses’ tax rates would not change, and only income in excess of $500,000 would be taxed at the same rate it was in the 1990’s.

Throughout this year, I have repeatedly stated my opposition to extending tax cuts for the wealthy – who constitute the smallest percentage of our national population – because of the costs the nation will continue to incur. However, if this is to be a true compromise, a step must be taken in the direction of our Republican colleagues in an effort to secure a tax extension for the middle class. 

I am honored that the voters of the 8th Congressional District have returned me to Congress. I will not ignore the many conversations I have had with my friends and neighbors here at home or the clear message sent by voters across the nation on Nov. 2. People want this nation to be the economic powerhouse it has been in the past. They want jobs. They want prosperity. I do too. Frankly, there is no one on either side of the aisle in Congress who disagrees with us.

The point of my compromise is to facilitate, not end, discussion among all members of Congress by focusing on where we all agree and acknowledging what our nation cannot afford. It is a short-term solution to meet an impending deadline, and could be the first step toward continuing bipartisan efforts to revitalize our economy.

It is my hope that my colleagues in Congress will embrace this opportunity to work for the American people. Americans have had enough of Congresses that are gridlocked by members obstinately clinging to party loyalty.

Let’s revive the lost art of compromise.