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Senate Democrats abandon "pay-go" rule on tax bill

The Senate voted 88 to 5 yesterday to pass the Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007. While it will protect millions of middle class Americans from being unfairly hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax this year, it doesn't provide for replacing the revenue or reducing an equivalent amount of spending.

A House bill, on the other hand, will replace the revenue by increasing taxes on hedge fund managers and others in the finance world who make millions - sometimes billions - each year, but pay a smaller percent of their income in taxes than people making $50,000 a year. If the Senate bill doesn't get fixed in conference committee by increasing taxes on rich financiers - which is unlikely - it will add another $50 billion to this year's budget deficit.

All but 5 of the Senate Democrats who voted on the bill supported it, abandoning fiscal responsibility and a significant differentiator between them and the Republicans, who generally believe eliminating taxes is a good thing, no matter the consequences, even as federal spending grows every year and we see the largest budget deficits in our country's history. Senators Whitehouse, Feingold, Carper, Conrad, and Dorgan voted against the bill. Obama, Biden, Dodd, and Clinton - all presumably in Iowa or New Hampshire campaigning - didn't vote on the bill. All the other Democrats voted for it.

More from the New York Times.

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