Tax cuts remain for Americans for two years

The House did pass the $858 billion tax package over the objections of liberal members of Congress, including most of the Bay Area members of the House.

"We should let the Bush tax breaks for the rich expire, period," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

"It does not create jobs, it does not grow our economy," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Republicans called it a compromise. Some said it's not a perfect bill, but it's a good bill.

But the deal that was negotiated extends the Bush tax cuts for everyone for up to two years, extends unemployment benefits for 13 months, and provides $400 billion in cuts and tax credits to boost the economy. Among the cuts is a 2-percent reduction in Social Security taxes.

"The Republicans are opening the door to the destruction of the Social Security system," said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.

Garamendi said it cannot happen. However, the bill did pass and it passed with more Democrats voting for it than Republicans. Though the only Bay Area member of the House to vote yes was 11th District Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., whose district stretches deep into the Central Valley.

The bill now goes to the president for his signature. While another bill is heading for the scrap heap; on Thursday Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. Republicans had complained that it was loaded with $8 billion in earmarks for pet projects.

Bay Area lawmakers requested earmark funding in that bill totaling $1.8 billion. Here's the list:

  • Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, asked for $21 million
  • Pete Stark, D-Fremont, asked for $62 million
  • George Miller, D-Martinez, asked for $90 million
  • Pelosi asked for $100 million
  • Lee asked for $110 million
  • Garamendi asked for $127 million
  • Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, asked for $145 million
  • Mike Honda, D-San Jose, asked for $175 million
  • McNerney asked for $187 million
  • Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma asked for $262 million
  • Mike Thompson, D- St. Helena, leads the list with $385 million

All those earmarks died when Reid pulled the bill. He will pursue a less expensive continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

And at the same time Reid said he will also bring up a vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" -- the military's controversial policy on gay and lesbian service men and women -- and he promised a vote on the Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for children of who are in the country illegally. Both votes scheduled for Saturday.

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