Politicians need to cross divide

Connor KocklerColumn, Opinion, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print Sauk Rapids - Rice, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

In recent weeks, much talk has centered around the Republican tax bill that was passed into law last year. Will it lower my taxes or not? Will it spur investment and economic growth? How much does it increase the deficit? These are all questions that have flown around as the country waits to see how things will be affected.

The finger-pointing is already flying around at usual pace, with the Democrats accusing Republicans of giving a cash boon to the rich and corporations while adding another trillion-and-a-half dollars to the deficit over 10 years. Republicans dismiss these claims and contend lowering corporate and individual tax rates will result in more spending and job creation.

In the midst of all of these arguments, it appears both sides of the aisle are living in different worlds. When Republicans were elected into the presidency and majorities in the House and Senate in 2016, they received a mandate from the voters to enact their policies. The House of Representatives has been very quick in moving on several pieces of legislation, but the real hold-up happens in the Senate. There, where the Republicans now hold 51 out of 100 seats, the threat of opposition filibusters causes bills to need 60, rather than just a simple majority (51) of votes to pass.

It would make sense then that this would result in some sort of compromise deals. But that would be wrong. Two things are preventing this from happening – the intransigence of even moderate Democratic senators to play ball with the Republicans and the existence of a rule called budget reconciliation

You would think some Democratic senators, especially those in states Trump and Republicans won by large margins in 2016, would be willing to get on board with tax cuts and propose some of their own ideas to their Republican colleagues. Instead, under the strong direction of the Democratic leadership, all Democratic senators in December voted against a bill to lower taxes for many Americans.

This disappoints me, especially with our Minnesota senators, as now due to their insistence on “resisting” the Republicans rather than trying to tone down unfavored parts of the bill, Minnesotans could now suffer from being unable to deduct all of their state and local taxes above the new $10,000 limit on their federal filing forms. Republicans certainly deserve blame, but so do our Democratic senators for not speaking up for our interests and offering their votes in exchange for changes that would be better for our state.

Another much criticized part of the tax bill, the “sunsetting” of the individual tax cuts in eight years, could have also been avoided by bipartisan work. Under the budget reconciliation rule I mentioned earlier, bills can be passed with only 51 votes, but only if they do not increase the deficit in the time period affected. If Democrats had come on board to support the bill and bring it to 60 votes, these tax cuts could have been made permanent.

Once again, our Democratic elected representatives did not step in to fight for us, preferring rather to criticize and hope to score political points to win the 2018 elections. While probably the best political strategy, the people who suffer are everyday folks who just want stuff to get done rather than all of this partisan sniping.

If we’re not careful, this situation risks turning into the way Obamacare ended up. Like this tax bill, Obamacare ended up being pushed through Congress by only one party under huge resistance by the other. Rather than attempting to find some common ground on the bill, Republicans decided to run as hard against it as they could. While they won the 2010 elections, Obamacare had some large problems we’re still dealing with today.

While you could say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, this kind of behavior is completely unproductive for our nation. Our political parties are too busy fighting each other to fix urgent problems and needs in our nation. It takes only a few people of goodwill to change the culture and cross the divide. Otherwise, nothing will ever get better.

Connor Kockler is a Sauk Rapids-Rice High School student. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.

Author: Connor Kockler

Kockler enjoys extensive reading, especially biographies and historical novels, and he has always had an almost inborn knack for writing well. He also enjoys following the political scene, nationally and internationally. In school, his favorite subjects are social studies and language. Two of his other hobbies are golfing and bicycling.

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