President Barack Obama’s renewed call to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts for anyone with annual income of more than $250,000 is making him a lot of enemies in his own party.
That’s particularly the case among Democrats facing competitive congressional races, Politico reports. Many would prefer that the threshold be set at $1 million rather than $250,000 — and some would like to see the tax decreases, scheduled to expire Dec. 31, continue for everyone.
This rebellion represents a continuation of the trend of moderate Democrats fleeing from the president.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who’s running for re-election this year, prefers the $1 million limit, according to his office. North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp feels the same way.
Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, who seeks to reclaim his old seat, “believes the $250,000 limit is too low but is evaluating how specific proposals would affect the budget,” his campaign spokesman said.
In addition, a senior GOP leadership aide told ABC News that he expected Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., to tread carefully on the issue, given his upcoming re-election bid in 2014.
“[Baucus] is a key player in getting a tax agreement done,” the aide said. “While he may echo the president’s position now, when push comes to shove, he will again push for a full extension of the tax rates that he helped negotiate back in 2001.”
Baucus said in a statement on Monday that he supported the president’s proposal, but he also urged lawmakers to come together on comprehensive tax reform.
“Extending the middle-class tax cuts will provide a much-needed sense of certainty to millions of families and our economy,” he said. “At the same time, we need to work to overhaul the nation’s tax code to reduce the deficit, create jobs and strengthen the economy.
“That is what the nation needs to get back on track,” Baucus said.
But some Democratic senators from Republican-friendly states may also be reluctant to support the president on this issue. They include Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, Jim Webb of Virginia, Arkansas’s Mark Pryor, Jon Tester of Montana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
There’s even some concern about Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, even though he’s technically an independent, Salon.com reports.
Some senators will soon be retiring, while others have to worry about their political futures. For many reasons, they might balk at giving the president everything he wants, even coming off an Obama victory.
Some Democrats from marginal districts in the House could do the same.
The split with President Obama shows up on other issues as well. Several vulnerable Democrats will probably support repealing the healthcare reform law when a vote is held on the issue on Wednesday.
Democrats representing states with large coal operations have taken Obama to task on energy policy. And some Democrats in hotly contested races, like McCaskill, are staying away from the presidential convention in September to avoid being tainted by an association with Obama.
Last fall, the president advocated the “Buffett rule” of higher taxes for those with incomes of more than $1 million a year. But now he’s back down to the lower threshold.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., supports the Buffett rule but voted against the $250,000 demarcation in 2010. West Virginians are “tired of temporary solutions to our long-term problems,” he said.
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