GOP Sens. push House to pass budget stop-gap now, before lame duck

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With a massive tax increase set to take effect if Congress fails to act before the end of the year and the lame duck session looming, two Republican senators are pushing the House of Representatives to pass a continuing resolution funding the government into next year, before the August recess.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner dated Friday, South Carolina Republican Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham urged the House not to wait until the post-November “lame duck” session to pass the resolution.

“As you know, it is both a longstanding practice in Washington and the current strategy of the president and congressional Democrats to avoid substantive fiscal policy debates until moments of maximum legislative leverage and minimal public scrutiny,” the pair wrote in a letter obtained by The Daily Caller. “Such is certain to be the case with any ‘lame duck’ session of this Congress convened in the last weeks of 2012, after the November election and before the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ raises taxes on all Americans January 1.”

January 1 represents the kick-off date for what has been described as Taxmaggedon — a $494 billion tax increase from the expiration of tax policies such as the Bush tax cuts and payroll tax cut, as well as the beginning of some of the tax increases in Obamacare. Also included in the melee is $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been sounding the alarm, describing the situation as “a fiscal cliff.”

“The so-called fiscal cliff would, if allowed to occur, pose a significant threat to the recovery,” Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee in early June. “If no action were taken and the fiscal cliff were to kick in in its full size, I think it would be very likely that the economy would begin to contract or possibly go even into recession, and that unemployment would begin to rise.”

According to DeMint and Graham, there is no excuse for waiting and allowing tax and spending policy to be hampered by “partisan political mischief” that fails to adequately serve the American people’s interests.

“To avoid a wholly predictable, and fundamentally undemocratic, scramble of thousand-page, trillion dollar bills, drafted on the fly and passed unread this fall, we write to urge House passage — before the August recess — of a continuing resolution at fiscally responsible levels into the new year,” they wrote. “Every day that passes gives more leverage to the advocates of bigger government, and failure to lead now will cost taxpayers billions more dollars whenever the the final agreement is reached.”

At a mid-May address to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit, Boehner said that he would push to resolve the coming onslaught prior to November.

“We shouldn’t wait until New Year’s Eve to give American job creators the confidence that they aren’t going to get hit with a tax hike on New Year’s Day,” he said. “Any sudden tax hike would hurt our economy, so this fall – before the election – the House of Representatives will vote to stop the largest tax increase in American history. This will give Congress time to work on broad-based tax reform that lowers rates for individuals and businesses while closing deductions, credits, and special carve outs.”

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