Rep. Austria on Bush Tax Cuts

Now that the dust from the recent election has settled, the real work begins. Before the newly elected Congress is sworn in on January 3rd, the lame duck Congress still has important work to do on issues ranging from extending the expiring tax cuts to addressing cuts to Medicare reimbursement payments to physicians.

We must address the expiring Bush tax cuts. If Congress does not extend these tax cuts, it will equate to a $3.8 trillion tax increase that will affect all taxpayers, from families to farmers to small business owners. The indecision surrounding this issue is causing uncertainty for those who are seeking assurance in these difficult economic times. All the temporary tax cuts need to be extended, including those affecting the estate tax, capital gains tax and dividends tax so as to spur confidence and encourage local entrepreneurs to invest in their businesses, creating long-term, sustainable jobs.

The potential cut in Medicare reimbursements to doctors is another issue that will likely be considered in the lame duck session. Unfortunately, a permanent fix to the physician fee schedule was not included in the health care reform law and instead a temporary extension is in place, which is set to expire at the end of this month. These short-term extensions have only increased uncertainty for physicians, forcing many of them to close their practices or severely limit the number of Medicare patients they see. Reform is necessary to establish a fair and equitable physician fee schedule for Medicare providers and patients.

Above all, we must ensure that these proposals are cost-effective, and are paid for by funds within the existing federal budget, rather than borrowing money and running up more debt. With the new Congress coming in, we have an opportunity to work together to address these challenges head-on, and focus our efforts on helping the job creators in the private sector generate long-term, sustainable jobs that will turn our economy around.

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