Sen. Mike Johanns: Congress should listen to voters

2010-09-27T11:51:00Z 2010-09-27T17:42:55Z Sen. Mike Johanns: Congress should listen to votersBy DON WALTON / Lincoln Journal Star
September 27, 2010 11:51 am  • 

The message sent by voters in this November's elections should influence what Congress decides to do in its postelection lame duck session, Sen. Mike Johanns says.

"It's only human nature that the results will have an impact," Johanns said during an interview in Lincoln.

"This is an election cycle where voters appear to be fired up and members of Congress should endeavor to listen" to the message they deliver at the ballot box, the Republican senator said.

Among decisions that await the lame duck session is whether to extend all of the Bush tax cuts or only those for middle-income Americans.

Republicans want extension of all the tax cuts; the White House and Democratic leaders would not extend the tax reductions for the wealthiest Americans, arguing that revenue is needed to begin to address federal budget deficits and a soaring national debt.

Pre-Bush administration tax rates would be restored for individuals earning $200,000 or more annually, and families making as much as $250,000, under the White House plan.

Another piece of the tax puzzle that must be addressed is the federal estate tax, Johanns said.

The estate tax lapsed this year, but would automatically return next year at a 55 percent rate with a $1 million exemption if no action is taken.

The House has approved a new 45 percent rate with a $3.5 million exemption.

Pending in the Senate is a proposal to apply a 35 percent rate with a $5 million exemption.

Those are the issues that need to be resolved in a lame duck session, Johanns said, not proposals dealing with climate change or legislation designed to make it easier for unions to organize a workplace.

"Once this election is over, and the dust settles, let's do what we need to do," Johanns said.

"Some of this other stuff needs to be put on the sidelines."

Johanns supports extension of all the Bush income tax cuts, arguing that a return to higher tax rates could slow or stall economic recovery.

"We've got to focus on tax policy and regulatory policy and ease the burden on the job creators," he said.

Obama administration policies, including health care and regulatory reform, have "punished business (and) created a lot of uncertainty," Johanns said.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at

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