This vote was on waiving the Senate’s rules that govern when amendments may be offered. The motion was made by Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who wanted to offer an amendment to a bill that would provide billions of dollars to states for Medicaid and education. DeMint’s amendment sought to add language to the bill that would have permanently frozen individual federal income tax rates at 2010 levels.
DeMint’s amendment was the first of many Republican attempts to keep from expiring tax cuts that were enacted under the George W. Bush administration.
DeMint said if his amendment isn’t enacted, tax rates will go up. He said someone in South Carolina earning $40,000 annually would pay $400 more next year in taxes without his amendment.
“Clearly, it makes no sense in the middle of a recession to raise taxes on individuals,” DeMint said. “What we need to do is assure businesses and individuals that the tax rate this year will be the same next year so they can make good decisions that will move our economy forward.”
Max Baucus, D-Mont., said DeMint’s amendment is “a stunt,” “a gimmick,” “not serious,” and “very sad.”
“We are in very difficult times. The economy is in recession, going out of recession. We are facing the prospect of what to do about the so-called Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2003. Those are massive tax cuts that were put in place in 2001 and 2003. They expire at the end of this year. It is a big question: What should the Congress do, what should the country do about those tax cuts?” Baucus said. “At the same time, we are facing terrific, unfortunately high deficits, very high deficits, almost as high as they were at the end of World War II—not quite but almost. But the main point is, these are very serious questions. They require deliberate thought. They require Senators to work together to find solutions that help our country, help us decide: To what degree should these tax cuts be extended? Which ones make sense? Which ones do not?”
Baucus said DeMint’s amendment would have the effect of extending all of those expiring tax cuts, but that DeMint doesn’t give enough specifics about how that would be done.
“That is going to be about a $3 trillion cost—a $3 trillion cost—over 10 years. He wants that all replaced with spending cuts. I ask you, is that serious? That is not serious. I ask, is that a stunt? Yes, that is a stunt. Is it a gimmick? Yes, it is a gimmick. Is it serious? No, it is not serious,” Baucus said.
DeMint responded that “it is a sad day in the Senate when keeping current tax rates the same and stopping the largest tax increase in history is called a stunt.”
By a vote of 42-58, the motion to allow DeMint’s amendment to be offered was rejected. All but one Republican present voted to allow the amendment. All but two Democrats present voted not to allow the amendment. The end result is that the rules governing the amendment process were not waived, and DeMint was not allowed to offer an amendment that would have made permanent the 2010 individual income tax rates.