Budget policy is at stake during Congress' current tax-cut showdown. The winner will get its way on budget policy, and the loser will likely take the blame if there is another recession.
The situation is a role reversal from last summer, as Democrats are taking a hard-line stance on taxes. Representative Chris Van Hollen is a ranking Democratic member of the House Budget Committee and represents Maryland's 8th District in Congress.
"Regardless of how it feels, it should not be a game," Van Hollen says. "This is not a game. There are very serious issues and implications here, which is why the President has said that Congress should act now, immediately, to extend tax relief for 98 percent of the American people."
Van Hollen says that there is plenty of opportunity for compromise on several pressing issues that Republicans and Democrats agree on. "What we have said is let's move forward on the portion that we agree on," he says. "Republicans say they want to extend tax relief for 98% of the people. So do the Democrats, let's get that done, off the table, rather than what we're seeing here in terms of holding all those tax breaks and relief for the middle class hostage."
Another point of compromise is the spending sequester, an automatic $1.2 trillion across-the-board slash that would cut $500 billion from the Pentagon's budget, as well as make cuts to social welfare programs. "With respect to the sequester, [Democrats] have also said that we should take the same balanced approach to replacing the sequester that every bipartisan commission has recommended, and that means reducing the long term deficit through a combination of cuts, [but also] revenues generated from eliminating tax loopholes and tax breaks for the folks at the very top and special interests," Van Hollen says.