Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Tuesday accused President Obama and Democrats in the Senate of purposefully ignoring proposals to cut federal spending and the debt to ensure that massive tax increases take effect at the end of the year.
Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, took to the Senate floor to criticize a letter he and other Republicans received from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Hatch's letter asked what Democrats are doing to prepare for a wave of automatic tax increases that will take place without congressional action.
Reid responded Tuesday by saying that Republicans, under the influence of "Tea Party extremists," are blocking action on the deficit by rejecting any tax hikes.
Hatch blasted Reid on the Senate floor and said his letter shows the Democrats are preparing to spring a tax trap on Americans as soon as the election is over.
"This response seems to confirm what we already know: that President Obama and his liberal allies would prefer to put off a discussion of this fiscal cliff. They do not want to address 'taxmageddon,' " he said, referring to potential tax hikes in 2013. "I am very certain that their preference would be to get to the other side of the election and then have tax hikes set in, not only for their caricatured evil corporations and individuals, but for the middle class as well."
"I have to say that I'm disappointed," Hatch said of Reid's letter. "While there is a great deal of political posturing about evil millionaires and big corporations, as well as repeated attacks on the Tea Party and the citizens who support its goals of a smaller constitutional government, there is no acknowledgement of the fiscal cliff we are fast approaching."
Hatch outlined several possible tax hikes that could result in 2013 if Congress fails to address the Bush-era tax rates and other provisions. Other factors are whether Congress extends research and development tax credits and other manufacturing credits, and whether it makes changes to the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax.
"The President and the Senate Democratic leadership have shown no willingness to answer these questions and provide the certainty that our economy craves," he said.
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday warned that the United States could tip into recession in 2013 in part because of the prospects of higher taxes.