'Compromise' may be a foul word to some of the more ideologically rigid members of Congress, but it's the key to making government work in an era of partisan division. So let's start with the upcoming fight over taxes.
In the lame-duck session that begins this week, neither Republicans fresh off a huge electoral victory nor Democrats who still claim majorities in both chambers until January and control the White House can get anywhere without making a deal. Yet a deal must be had to avoid an income-tax hike that could badly hurt the middle class and stifle the economic recovery in its infancy.
The Bush-era tax cuts expire on Dec. 31. Republicans want the cuts to be made permanent. President Obama and most Democrats want to extend the cuts for families earning under $250,000 and drop them for those above that level.
A permanent extension for all would add about $4 trillion over the next 10 years to the growing national debt. Of that, $700 billion reflects money the government would not get from families earning more than $250,000.
That's money this country doesn't have and can't afford for the top 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans.
The argument that raising taxes on the top tier would really hurt small-business owners who could not afford to hire new employees has already been undercut by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which found that only 2 percent of those reporting small-business income would see tax increases under the Obama plan.
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