By TOM COLE
Last week in a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress voted to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts for another two years.
In so doing, they effectively stopped a massive tax increase that would have hit every single American taxpayer. I supported this legislation but with some reservations.
My personal preference would have been to extend the tax cuts permanently, and to eliminate the death tax completely. And I have serious reservations about a payroll tax holiday that will undermine the solvency of Social Security. But the members of Congress were not presented with an opportunity to vote on that, so I voted for the best possible option.
While the legislation is certainly not ideal, allowing massive tax hikes to go into effect for every American during a recession is simply unacceptable. Without this compromise, taxes were set to go up on January 1 – and stay up indefinitely. The elevated rates would mean tax increases of $4.4 billion in Oklahoma – an average of roughly $2,800 per person.
Although the new Republican majority in the House would begin working immediately to restore lower tax rates when the next Congress convenes, there is no guarantee the Democratically controlled Senate and White House would agree to a better deal and no way to know how long negotiations would last. During the days or weeks it would take to negotiate, debate and vote on a solution, the tax hikes would remain in effect, resulting in smaller paychecks for workers and higher costs for employers.
America's job creators strongly support the compromise. The Chamber of Commerce called the agreement "one of the best steps Washington can take to eliminate the uncertainty that is preventing our employers from hiring, investing, and growing their businesses."
Many respected conservative activists also applauded the agreement. Newt Gingrich praised the legislation as "a great victory for the American people" while FreedomWorks declared "it's a no-brainer to not allow taxes to go up dramatically in January."