While it is probably clear to most readers that I am not a big fan of the GOP generally, lately some of the actions of the Democrats in Congress have annoyed me much more.
For example, the debate over whether the New START treaty should be voted on before the next Congress comes into session next year has been all over the news in the last few weeks. Now as a rule, I have no problem with such treaties simply because nuclear arms reduction is always a good thing in my book, especially considering how large the stockpile of the United States and Russia still are now 20 years after the Cold War has ended. My problem with this treaty has been timing.
This treaty was signed by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev on April 8, 2010. Since that ceremonial signing, little has progressed with the treaty here in the United States and this uncertainty of whether it will passed has caused the Russians to become cautious of the treaty as well. So why has it taken so long for the treaty to come to a vote? Many actually predicted the treaty would be passed with little delay since it was backed from the start by Senator Lugar who is seen as one of the most influencial Republicans (and Senators in general) on matters such as these. But support from Republicans has been much less than forthcoming.
The main issues brought up by Republicans is that the treaty is more oriented in reduction and maintaince than modernization. The Obama administration denies this but the Republicans, led by Senator Kyl, have not been convinced and want more time to debate this treaty. In the same thought, others have made the point that debating the new START treaty is not as high of priority as other matters, mainly the continuation or the Bush Tax Cuts.
Another problem some see with the New START treaty has been made by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. He contends that while as a whole the treaty does not restrict U.S. efforts to build a real ballistic missile defense system, the pre-amble does suggest that such efforts may be restricted and contends that during the talks before the signing of this treaty there may have been some verbal deal between the American representatives and their Russian counterparts that if Russian agrees to the reductions the US will reduce its efforts to build a complete "missile shield" in return. The Obama administration denies this but Krauthammer and others contend that this should be investigated properly to make sure there were no miscommunication between the American and Russian representatives....And I agree.
While I do agree such a treaty is very important and Democrats points that there have been no inspectors in Russian to observe nuclear arsenal for over a year are quite valid, these are things that can be handled next year. Why? Because for the moment, I believe the American economy is a more important matter for the 'Lame duck' session to worry about. The New START treaty will still be there in two months and I believe thorough debate is a must on such treaties and once all is clear what the treaty will and will not do, then a vote on it can be had.
The issue of whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended or not, is in my mind more important for the 'lame duck' session to worry about right now. These tax cuts expire in a little over a month and still neither part has a concesus on what should be done. More or less, the GOP is unified in their belief that at the very least, all the tax cuts should be extended at least til next year and preferably the GOP would like to see them permanently extended. The Democrats on the other hand are all over the place with ideas of compromises but no one has a majority of support it seems. Some, like the President, believe that at the very least tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 should extended, possibly permanently while tax cuts for upper class Americans should return to their pre-Bush levels. Some have recently suggested the bar be raised to $1 million dollars instead to try and appeal to Republicans. The reasonings behind these ranging opinions from both parties is too lengthy to cover in this blog entry but there are at some solid reasoning for both sides arguments.
Ultimately, considering how little time there is left to figure this out, I think it is prudent for Democrats to quite bickering among themselves and find some compromise with the Republicans. Personally, I am not a big fan of continuing the tax cuts permanently simply because of how much they are projected to add to the deficit over the next decade (enough to make the Stimulus and TARP look like child's play). However considering the shape the economy is in right now, it is more prudent to not raise taxes on anyone at least until the economy escapes this recession. But I do believe I know why Democrats are seemingly stalling on this issue. They likely fear that if they agree to extend all the tax cuts for a few years that when the time comes to decide what to do with them again the Congress could be held completely by Republicans and they may choose to extend them permanently, and this is a valid fear but for right now they are just going to have to take that risk for the good of the economy.