Ken Connor

I suppose if one is inclined to make lemonade from lemons, there are a few bright spots in the disappointing compromise cobbled together at the last possible moment. It's good that the Bush-era tax cuts have been made permanent. This at least provides some economic stability for small businesses and entrepreneurs to hang their hats on in this rather uncertain economic environment. Of course this good news is tempered somewhat by the expiration of the payroll tax holiday. And the compromise reached regarding the estate tax only looks good in comparison to what would have been if Mr. Obama had gotten his way. He wanted 45% and only got 40%. President Obama and his spendthrift, big government congressional cohorts now get 40% of your accumulated wealth over $5 million when you die – money that you've already paid taxes on once, if not twice or three times. Bet you don't think death should be a taxable event, but leave it to Big Brother to find a justification for taking the pennies from your eyes.

As many have pointed out, however, the real challenge is yet to come. In a few weeks we'll begin hearing news of more late night negotiations, all for the purpose of delaying yet again the worst of the sequestration measures from taking effect. Then, of course, there is the debt-ceiling debate looming. The president, in full professorial mode, has already made clear that he will not get on this particular horse again. He seems to think he has the authority to raise the debt limit through the bully pulpit, and wishes he had the constitutional authority to do so via Executive Order. But he can't, and thankfully he doesn't. That debate, and others, will happen and happen soon. Can Congress overcome its addiction to spending? Will it risk alienating interest groups and constituencies who trade votes for government largesse? The odds don't look good, but hope springs eternal, as they say.

One thing's certain: Unless we get spending under control, the pressure for more taxes will be unrelenting, and America will continue to slouch towards European-style quasi-socialism.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.