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Congress focuses on DREAM Act, while Americans focus on tax cuts

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

According to a Gallup poll released just before Thanksgiving, Americans are sending the message to the lame duck Congress that Representatives are misplacing priorities by desperately trying to pass the DREAM Act before (or to the exclusion of) extending tax cuts passed under George W. Bush. The findings come as the House of Representatives is planning to vote on the controversial immigration legislation early next week.

When it comes to passing legislation allowing illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college, 31 percent ranked the issue as "Very important," 29 percent ranked the issue as "Somewhat important," and 38 percent responded that the issue was "Not too/Not at all important."  Reforming immigration for the children of illegal immigrants seems to be well below the enthusiastic level at this point in time when compared to renewing tax policies of the previous administration. 

When it comes to extending some form of the federal income tax cuts passed under George W. Bush that are set to expire at the end of this year, 50 percent of Americans considered the move as "Very important", 31 percent ranked the issue "Somewhat important," and 16 percent didn't think the issue was all that important.   Also, 56 percent of those polled on the issue of passing legislation to keep the estate tax from rising called the action "Very important," 26 percent said it was "Somewhat important," and 17 percent said that the issue was "Not too/ Not at all important."

USA Today, in conjunction with Gallup, conducted the poll of Americans on November 19-21, asking them to rate possible actions Congress may take during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. Just before the 112th session commences in January, Democrats could effectively raise taxes by allowing the Bush era tax cuts to expire, raise the estate tax again, and allow many illegal immigrants a "pathway to citizenship."  While President Obama has railed against the Bush tax cuts being exclusively for the richest Americans at the expense of the middle class, the lame duck Congress is mulling over passing a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts for middle class Americans.  In a sense, this appears to be a subtle admission that the Democratic party's previous rhetoric against Bush's tax cuts was demagoguery meant to undermine the previous President's agenda. Perhaps those so-called tax cuts for the rich included a provision for middle class Americans after all, contrary to what has been previously claimed. 

With the Bush tax cuts and the estate tax at the top of the list for many cash-crunched citizens, it will be interesting to see whom the current lame duck congress puts first as they get ready to close their time in Washington.  Will fiscally empowering Americans through sound tax policy take precedence over legalizing citizens who came here illegally in the first place? Or has the Washington Establishment willingly plugged its ears to the average American citizen, replacing him/her with the building of certain voter bases for future elections?

It's already partially apparent what that answer already is. The DREAM Act vote is scheduled before any vote on any attempts to extend tax cuts for American citizens. This ought to tell voters something about the kind of "representatives" that have supposedly been governing the nation.

Voters need to keep up the pressure on the incoming Congress in January to ensure that the new class of politicians doesn't fall into the complacent, elitist Establishment mindset that's being reflected in the immigration debate. While faith in easily seduced politicians is almost always bound to disappoint, the power and sharpness of voters who hold both parties accountable can always be trusted.

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