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The Week Ahead: Taxing (and Spending) Debates

Another week, another round of fights on tap over energy, taxes, unemployment benefits and funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Senate this week will continue work on a $120 billion "tax extenders" bill that includes energy provisions as well as the tightening of certain controversial tax loopholes. The House will likely work later in the week to move a new version of the war supplemental spending measure, though that has also proven to be difficult as Democrats attempt to strike a deal with the White House. Looming over everything is the continuing partisan fight over skyrocketing gas prices and which party is to blame for them.

With so many hot-button issues on the horizon, here are previews of the week ahead from the offices of the top four congressional leaders:

Jim Manley, for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):

GOALS

1. Highlight Democrats' efforts to make the American Dream affordable again by lowering energy prices, cutting taxes for the middle-class and extending unemployment benefits.

2. Contrast our efforts to strengthen the economy with Bush-McCain Republicans, who have blocked us at every turn and offer only more of the same failed economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

MESSAGE FRAME

Democrats are working to help Americans families struggling with the rising costs of living and a shrinking job market. We are not willing to sit idly by as the economy continues to decline and middle-class life becomes less affordable - that is why we will be working this week to lower energy prices, cut taxes for the middle-class and extend unemployment benefits. But when out-of-touch Bush-McCain Republicans block those efforts, they are not only saying no to Democrats - they are saying no to millions of Americans who bear the burden of record-high gas prices, a record-high number of foreclosures and rising unemployment.

Don Stewart, for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

Rejecting calls to work together in a bipartisan way, the Democrat majority failed once again in an attempt to permanently raise taxes to temporarily extend existing tax policy. Republicans will continue to insist the Senate start with a clean bill that extends tax relief while protecting taxpayers from the middle-class tax grab known as the AMT. S. 3098, a bill introduced by Senators McConnell, Kyl, Grassley and Hatch, does just that: it extends tax relief, cleanly patches the AMT for one year, contains no tax hikes, and includes the bipartisan package of energy tax incentives introduced by Senators Cantwell and Ensign which encourage the development of alternative energy sources.

Senate Republicans will continue to push for solutions to reduce gas prices at the pump. We need more American energy now--not higher taxes or more foreign oil. America is the third largest oil producer in the world and we should increase our own domestic production in an environmentally responsible manner while continuing the effort to develop clean energy technology.

Congress must also meet its responsibility to fund our forces in the field. We may also have an opportunity to confirm two additional circuit court nominees - the 9th and 10th of this Congress. That's well below the average of previous Presidents, including President Clinton who had 15 circuit court judges confirmed in his last two years in office.

Nadeam Elshami, for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

House Democrats will continue to focus on providing a much needed extension of unemployment benefits to 3.8 million Americans who are struggling under a Bush economy that has left them behind. At a time when American families are feeling the pain at the pump, rising prices at the grocery store, and struggling to stay in their homes, the New Direction Congress is committed to real solutions for real people.

Not only will the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act directly benefit an estimated 3.8 million Americans, it would provide needed stimulus to our struggling economy.

* Every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates $1.64 in new economic demand. Jobless workers and our nation's businesses could use the relief. [Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com, 1/22/08]

* The Congressional Budget Office has determined that extending these benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy because the money is spent quickly.

And the legislation is fiscally responsible. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Ranking Members on the House Budget Committee, explained the bill is fiscally responsible: "We have a trust fund for this...This is one time money." [Wall Street Journal, 6/13/08]

Also critical to stimulating our economy is the GI Bill for the 21st Century. Not only will this crucial legislation meet our promise to care for our brave men and women when they return home, but it will also make the heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan part of a new American economic recovery. Just as our veterans spurred the growth of our economy following World War II, so to will the next generation strengthen our economy. For every dollar invested in our veterans with the first GI bill, seven dollars were generated.

The New Direction Congress will thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice with a college education and a chance at the American Dream.

Michael Steel, for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio):

Over the weekend, the average price of gas hit $4.08 nationwide, with more than half the states passing the average $4 a gallon mark. That means the national average for the "Pelosi Premium" -- the increase in gas prices since Rep. Pelosi took the Speaker's gavel -- is $1.75. What are House Democrats planning to do to bring down gas prices? As usual, not a darned thing. What are House Republicans doing? Everything we can.

This week, Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.) will introduce a discharge petition on Rep. Joe Pitts's (R-Pa.) legislation to allow new refineries to be built on closed military bases. As many people know, no new refineries have been built in this country since 1976. This legislation would help increase our American energy supply and provide economic opportunities in communities that have been devastated by the loss of a military base. Also, the Interior Appropriations bill will likely be marked up by the full Appropriations Committee. As you may recall, last week Democrats rejected an amendment offered by Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) that would have allowed deep-water energy exploration. I'd expect to see a similar amendment in full committee.

Last week, Rep. Rahm Emanuel held a press conference to unveil a new Democratic "energy plan." But the legislation, announced with great fanfare, is already in current law. Once again, Democrats are promoting fake "solutions" to the problem of rising gas prices to try to divert attention from the real facts. They have no "common sense" plan to lower gas prices, because they actually favor higher gas prices, as Sen. Obama has said.

Over the weekend, The Hill reported that "Pelosi met with several committee chairs and members of the House Democratic leadership Thursday to begin work on a package of energy proposals." But the proposals the article cites -- taxpayer subsidies for public transit and increased telecommuting for federal employees -- will not increase American energy or lower gas prices. It is clear that these proposals are designed to provide political cover to Democrats who are fearful of the political consequences of their Leadership continuing to push policies that raise gas prices rather than lowering them.

What else do expect to see this week from House Democrats? Nothing tremendously consequential. Nothing to provide our troops the funding they need. Nothing to protect America by modernizing FISA. Nothing to lower gas prices. Just another do-nothing week for the do-nothing Democratic Congress.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 16, 2008; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda  
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Comments

When do the investigations into Impeachment start?

Posted by: thebob.bob | June 16, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

So I pray to God that the voters will both
remember and vote out "I Took Impeachment
Off The Table" Mad Madame Nancy Pelosi,the
Chief Backer of Loser Barack Hussein Obama
along with Harebrain Harry Reid and Howard
Screamer Dean,Windsurfer John Kerry,Old DUI
Teddy Kennedy and Bill Judeas Richardson
and now Hanging Chad Al Gore as the Democrats and all the remaining Republicans
that kept War Criminals George W Bush and
VP Draft Dodger Cheney in power,must be held accountable and responsible and voted
out of office in 2008 along with that phony
self-confessed cocaine addict and drug pusher,secret Muslim,Relgious Hypocrit,
Marxist,Elitist,Corrupt Chicago Democratic
Machine Punk Barack Hussein Obama as well.

Posted by: Sherry Kay | June 17, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Any time there is a vote for give away to industry Bush is all for it. When it come to helping people who actually need help they call it morally wrong.

The unemployment number inly counts those that applied for unemployment and are still receiving it. So 70% of the unemployed are never counted.

Posted by: Lautenberg | June 17, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

But who do you think should be picked as VP running mate?
Go to http://www.votenic.com and see what America thinks
2008 Presidential Election Weekly VP Poll.

Posted by: furty | June 17, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi when she personally took "impeachment off the table" basically erased this provision written into our constitution for this president. This is "on the table" and always is as written by our founders and No on is above the law.

Posted by: thatsthewayitis | June 17, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

FOREIGN TAX CREDITS
In 1977 Representative Benjamin Rosenthal of New York produced secret Internal Revenue Service documents going back to 1950. They showed that the tax laws of Saudi Arabia were drafted with the help of Aramco to call the added price of oil not a "royalty" or "cost of doing business," as was proper, but an income tax." The Saudis did this knowing that income tax paid to a foreign country is deductible from the income taxes an oil company pays the United States on all income received in the United States by the parent firm. From Pgs. 61-64 The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian 5th edition paperback color emphasis added

"This plan was approved in secret session of the National Security Council and carried out without any request for authorization by Congress. A quarter of a century later, when members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee un-earthed details, the source of the king's added income had become too self-evident for comment." From pgs. 193-196 Oil Power The Rise and Fall of An American Empire by Carl Solberg 1976 paperback

"This practice, perfected in Saudi Arabia, was quickly adopted elsewhere. Eventually, every oil-producing nation where American companies had a concession enacted an income tax law to increase its oil revenue by tapping the foreign tax credit provision of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code." From pgs. 183-190 America: Who Really Pays The Taxes by Donald L.Barlett & James B. Steele paperback

"Since that time the major multinational U.S. oil companies have paid hardly a penny of U.S. income tax on their foreign income." page130 BANKS. BORROWERS, AND THE ESTABLISHMENT

Posted by: BenDoubleCrossed | June 17, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

HOW AMERICA BECAME DEPENDENT ON FOREIGN OIL

Foreign tax credits established in the early 50s made it more profitable for multi-national oil companies to produce oil overseas than in America.

By 1973 America was dependent on OPEC oil for a crippling percentage of US daily energy consumption. Black mailed by the oil embargo of 1973, America acceded to stipulations of the 1975 Algiers Agreement that required the majority of new refineries, chemical and fertilizer plants be built in OPEC countries.

Other portions of this agreement are the blue print for a new world economic order.

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT
Algiers Declaration
March 1975

In this context, they emphasize the necessity for the full implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its VI Special Session, and accordingly they emphasize the following requirements

"With regard to the depletable natural resources, as OPEC's petroleum resources are, it is essential that the transfer of technology must be commensurate in speed and volume with the rate of their depletion, which is being accelerated for the benefit and growth of the economies of the developed countries"

A major portion of the planned or new petrochemical complexes, oil refineries and fertilizer plants be built in the territories of OPEC Member Countries with the co-operation of industrialized nations for export purposes to the developed countries with guaranteed access for such products to the markets of these countries. [Excerpt from declaration sections 10 and 11]

Posted by: BenDoubleCrossed | June 17, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world began with the oil embargo of 1973. At this rate (the economist calculated) they would be able to buy all the major companies on the world's stock exchanges in twenty-five years; I.B.M. in seven months; Exon in four months; and the Bank of America in sixteen days. (from pg. 121 The Money Lenders by Anthony Sampson @1981 hardback )
What was this to mean in terms of accumulated wealth? It meant that the nations who were forced to pay for oil at these higher prices would be stripped of their wealth, products and resources at the rate of over a hundred billion dollars a year. The surpluses that would be accumulated by OPEC countries at this rate were estimated to be as high as $650 billion by 1978, but a more realistic figure would be $250 billion by 1978-1980. Even the lowest figure represents a massive amount of accumulated surplus wealth. In all its history the U.S. never accumulated more than $26 billion -- the record in 1949. In 1975 the U.S. had only $16 billion in financial reserves and west Germany had $36 billion. By the end of 1975 Saudi Arabia had already surpassed both in accumulated surplus of financial reserves.
( from pg.53 Armageddon Oil and the Middle East Crisis @1976, 1980 by John f. and John E. Walvoord )

Posted by: BenDoubleCrossed | June 17, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

There's nothing to "modernize" in the FISA bill. It was updated when the PATRIOT Act was put in place. Granting retroactive immunity has nothing to do with "modernization"

Posted by: GambitRF | June 17, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The only time OPEC listens is when we stop using as much fuel. When we're willing to change lifestyles to car pooling, mass transit and slower speeds on the highway. That's the only united voice against high fuel costs.

Posted by: Brian | June 17, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. McConnell should be careful that the Democrats don't do what the GOP threatened a while back and eliminate the filibuster. Back then the Blue Dogs saved it, but they were a coalition of centrists of both parties. This election cycle may very well eliminate all but a couple of the Senate centrists from the GOP so there wouldn't be many from that side to make a deal with. Take a look at the House minority Senator McConnell; you could be in the same position in less than a year.

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