Another line in the sand has been drawn as Congress faces a daunting lame-duck year-end fiscal crisis dubbed around Capitol Hill as "Taxmaggedon."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., responded to a letter from Senate Republicans today in which they called for an immediate extension of the Bush tax cuts, with a message of his own: that's impossible before the election.
"Once Republicans are willing to abandon their commitment to more tax breaks for multi-millionaires and special interests and their plans to end Medicare, I am confident that we can reach an agreement," Reid wrote. "Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans blind adherence to Tea Party extremism is making it impossible to reach this sort of balanced agreement before the election."
Congress is facing a year-end intersection of the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, the $1.2 trillion spending cuts due to the sequester, and expiring payroll tax breaks, meaning that if Congress and the president do not act, American taxpayers could be faced with $310 billion in tax increases next year.
Last week 41 Republican Senators sent a letter to Reid demanding Reid start acting now rather than wait for the perfect storm to develop at the end of the year.
"Instead of addressing this fiscal cliff, President Obama and Congress have spent much of the past year advancing misguided redistributionist policies in the name of fairness," the Republican senators wrote. "It is essential that Congress and the president address these coming tax increases this summer than creating additional uncertainty for families and job creators by awaiting until the last possible minute."
"The American people want a balanced approach to fiscal policy that combines smart spending cuts with revenue measures that ask millionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share," Reid said in his own letter.
Reid says that the Republican Party's "strict adherence to Tea Party ideology" has put a "balanced, common-sense solution" out of reach.