Skip to main content

GOP tax cut ultimatum: Principled or 'temper tantrum?'

President Obama this week met with congressional leaders from both parties, and they pledged to work together.
President Obama this week met with congressional leaders from both parties, and they pledged to work together.
  • Readers responded to news that GOPers are demanding Senate take up tax cuts first
  • GOP wants to extend Bush tax cuts for all; Dem leaders want to exclude the very wealthiest
  • Tax cuts enacted by Bush will expire December 31 if Congress fails to reach an agreement
  • Political analysts split along ideological lines on the GOP tactic and on the fiscal impact

(CNN) -- Senate Republicans' threat to hold up legislation for everything not related to tax cuts or the budget is either standing up for principles or a "congressional temper tantrum," depending on your point of view.

Thousands of readers responded to news that all 42 Senate Republicans signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, vowing to prevent a vote on "any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers."

The letter came the day after President Obama met with congressional leaders from both parties, and all parties pledged to work together to solve the nation's economic problems.

Senate GOP pledges to block all bills until tax dispute resolved

Some readers said Republicans' tactics are a continuation of the "obstructionism" they have practiced since Obama took office.

"Republicans lose an election and stick to their obstructionism, Republicans win an election and stick to their obstructionism," commented a reader who identified himself as "joesmith007."

Others said Democrats acted with a similar heavy hand.

"Sounds alot like the passage of the healthcare bill to me," commented a reader who called himself "pedrosanchez."

Many likened the ultimatum to a "temper tantrum."

Tax cut showdown on Capitol Hill

"Right, because throwing temper tantrums and keeping other important issues from being addressed is the way to solve problems," wrote reader "lmmmr." "Did we really elect a bunch of 3 year olds?"

The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts enacted by former President George W. Bush will expire after December 31 if Congress fails to reach an agreement on their extension. Top Democrats and Republicans disagree sharply over whether the current tax rates should be extended just for families earning $250,000 or under per year, or for everyone, regardless of income.

Obama and GOP still far apart on tax cuts

Republicans contend that a failure to extend all of the tax cuts would hamper an already sluggish economy. Obama and Democratic congressional leaders argue that the roughly $700 billion price tag attached to an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would be fiscally irresponsible.

Economists: Extend Bush tax cuts for everyone

Readers accused Republicans of being more interested in paying back campaign donors than helping lower-income Americans in hard times.

"The people making over $250,000 are generally not having problems paying their bills. [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell must think the American people are seriously stupid in trying to sell that they are attempting to help the average American with this maneuver," wrote a reader who called himself "rapier."

"ocscorpio78" wrote, "Good to know that the GOP thinks tax cuts for millionaires is the most important issue facing our country right now."

But a reader who identified himself as "rukidding1" countered that "Democrats are just as bad. They just voted not to ban special pet projects called earmarks. There all politicians."

Political analysts were split along ideological lines on the Republicans' tactic and on the fiscal impact of extending tax credits for those above the $250,000 threshold.

"What you're doing will take additional tax revenues from individuals who can do something positive," Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins told CNN's "John King USA" on Wednesday. "It's not like there's a shortfall, because you take taxes away from us. That's the other side of the story. You're not cutting any spending.

"We for four years have had to sit here and deal with how Democrats can do whatever they want. They can't do that now. Republicans aren't going to give up what they've been fighting for."

But Democratic strategist and CNN contributor James Carville said extending the cuts for all in return for extending benefits for the long-term unemployed is a deal that Democrats shouldn't agree to.

"Remember, when you extend it for people making over $250,000, you're adding $700 billion to the deficit," he said. "To deal with it -- we're going to cut the deficit, but the first thing we'll do is add $700 billion to the deficit and we're going to extend unemployment compensation. But don't worry, we're going to freeze federal pay.

"I mean, it's -- does anybody see it? Is it just me that sees if we cut the deal, we're going to spend money on both sides and talk about cutting the deficit? I don't know."

While the debate over extending the tax credits to all goes on, the stalemate feeds public perception that lawmakers are more driven by party politics than finding solutions, said CNN contributor Jon Avlon, an independent.

"There are two parallel tracks here. The argument Republicans are making is that this will create a stimulus for the economy rather than a tax cut in the middle of a recession," he said. "But clearly, I mean, Republicans beginning the day with this kind of bargain is what gives bipartisanship a bad name in Washington. If you agree 100 percent of the time and cave in, then you're being bipartisan. There's something disingenuous about that."

A reader who called himself "Brational" also decried leaders' lack of ability to compromise.

"Whether we are Republican or Democrat we all need to send the message to both sides of the aisle that constructive compromise is more important to us than sound bites and ideological nonsense," he wrote. "I manage to get things accomplished in my job, working with people I don't always agree with. Don't you? These bozos (on both sides of the aisle) will continue to act like three year olds until we demand better behavior. Let's stop defending them based on the (R) or (D) after their name and start expecting them to get to work, damn it!"

Cafferty: Is anyone serious about tackling deepening financial crisis?

Some readers advocated not paying lawmakers if they're not getting anything done.

"So if I showed up to work and said that I have no intention of doing anything for the next 2 months and prevent everyone else from doing anything as well then I would be fired in a heartbeat," wrote a reader identified as "AliTny." "Does it make it ok if you are a US congressman. At a minimum can we at least not pay them for the period they are not working?"

CNN's Ted Barrett, Dana Bash, John Helton, Alan Silverleib and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.