A To-Do List for Lame Duck Dems

Monday, November 15, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Reshma Saujani

Congress’s lame duck session begins today. Many promises were made on the campaign trail and whether they get attention during the lame duck session will have significant consequences for Democrats in 2012.

First is the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). Last Friday, the Supreme Court declined to take up the repeal of DADT and prevent the enforcement of the lower court’s ban. Now it is up to the President and Democrats to make good on their commitment to lift the ban on gays serving in the military. Both the American public and military personnel support lifting the ban. A leaked Pentagon study stated that seventy percent of military service men and women said the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t would have a “positive, mixed or nonexistent” impact. Congress must act to repeal DADT now. Given the makeup of the 112th Congress, it is unlikely that we will get this opportunity again

Second, Democrats must push Congress to pass the Dream Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly promised on the campaign trail that if he won, he would push to get the Dream Act passed during the lame duck session. This legislation would give a pathway to citizenship for immigrant children who serve in the military or pursue higher education. Reid was partially reelected because he promised Latino voters that he would take up the issue if he returned to the Senate. There is no question that Reid will have a better chance of passing the Dream Act in the lame duck session. While he was unable to pass the bill in September, he may be able to pick up some votes from Senators who are retiring or lost their reelection bid and can support the passage of the bill without political repercussions.

Finally, Congress must act to prevent the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts for middle class families. We must protect millions of working families from significant tax increases. If no compromise is reached, the higher tax rates will take effect in January. For a typical middle class family that could mean an additional $2,000 a year in tax expenses.  Given that many working families are struggling to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, this will be crippling.

None of these issues are on the roaster for the first week of the lame duck session. In week one, Congress is going to decide whether the World Soccer Association can bring its championship to the United States. Lets hope the week after, Congress will do what the American people asked them to do and start tackling the important issues that have real consequences for working families.

Reshma Saujani ran an unsuccessful campaign in the Democratic primary against Rep. Carolyn Maloney in New York's 14th district, which covers Manhattan and Western Queens. A community activist, attorney for hedge funds and a legal scholar, she is a graduate of the University of Illinois, received her Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and her JD from Yale Law School.


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Comments [2]

Increase taxes above $1 Million and more above 10M from NYC

If Congress is really concerned about the deficit, and feels compelled to decrease taxes by extending the Bush tax cuts - it
should be paid for by a TAX INCREASE ONLY ON THE RICH.

Say an additional 5 % on incomes above $1 million, 10 % above $5 million and 20 % above $ 10 million. This will reduce taxes for the vast majority of the people (who are also more likely to spend it and stimulate the economy), yet it will yield revenue to lower the deficit.

Doing so will tax people who (1) are best able to afford it, (2) did disproportionately well in the past 20 years and (3) have NOT to date shared in any significant austerity that they are proposing for the country.

I wonder WHY the "deficit committee" chairs didn't propose this ? We should
ask WHY.

The amount raised would be significant -
much of the income and assets are clustered among the rich and superrich.
(For example, a 4 % tax on the assets of the top 40 people alone would raise $48 billon a year ). This isn't class warfare - this is defending the middle class against
the abuse of power by the mega-rich.
(Buffett - to his credit - has stated that
the rich have for years waged a class warfare against America's middle class).

If you want to incentivize small businesses to create new jobs - why not EXPLICITLY reward new job creation in the tax code -
and increase taxes on the rich to pay for it ? (For example, a 20 % deduction on the
salaries of new additional employees hired directly - up to some cap).

We need to ask WHY the "deficit committee" chairs - and much of Congress - only want austerity for the middle class and never even consider such proposals!

Nov. 15 2010 10:51 AM
Ilook Justlikeme

Let's hope the morons follow your advice!

Nov. 15 2010 04:39 AM

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