Tags: Senate | Republicans | Fight | Obama | Bush | Tax | Cuts

Senate Republicans Plan to Fight Obama to Keep Bush Tax Cuts for All

Monday, 13 Sep 2010 02:35 PM

Senate Republicans have enough votes to block President Barack Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class while allowing those for the wealthy to expire, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader said Monday.

Republicans Monday scrambled to regroup on the tax issue ahead of Nov. 2 congressional elections after House Republican Leader John Boehner appeared to open the door for a possible compromise.

Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, said Senate Republicans are united on the issue. "There are no Republicans who support a tax hike," he said.

Obama raised the stakes last week when he accused Republicans of "holding hostage" middle class tax cuts to save lower tax rates for the top two income groups. Tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush for all individuals will expire at the end of the year if Congress fails to act.

The issue has the Obama administration and Republicans in a political showdown, with Democratic lawmakers caught in the middle as they struggle to keep control of both chambers in November's midterm congressional elections.

Some Democrats have distanced themselves from the administration's call to let tax cuts expire for the wealthy, arguing the economic recovery is too weak to impose tax increases.

Republicans are also sending mixed signals. Boehner said Sunday that if given no other choice, he would support extending tax cuts for the middle class — even if cuts for the wealthy are allowed to expire, effectively raising their taxes.

In response, Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, on Monday called for a vote on whether to extend all Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the rich. But Cantor's pitch is likely to fall on deaf ears.

A senior House Democratic aide said the plan is still for the Senate to take the lead on the thorny question of what to do about the looming expiration of tax cuts for all individuals at year-end.

House members have said privately they are tired of taking politically difficult votes — such as on climate-change legislation — and then have the Senate balk.

Several opinion polls show a majority of Americans support letting the tax cuts for the rich expire, but the issue has made some Democrats nervous in ahead of the hotly contested elections which Republicans are seeking to wrest control of Congress from Obama's Democrats.

While pressuring Republicans to agree to a permanent extension of the middle-class cuts, the administration says the nation cannot afford the $700 billion over a decade that would be needed to extend lower rates on the top two income groups.

Unlike Boehner, Cantor showed no sign of backing away from a full renewal of the Bush-era tax cuts ahead of the November elections. "Raising taxes in this environment is a nonstarter for me," Cantor said in a statement.

Lawmakers are just back from a summer recess and most political analysts believe that with roughly two weeks of legislating time left in the Senate, the issue will get punted to after the elections.

Several fiscally conservative Senate Democrats and vulnerable House Democrats have been distancing themselves from Obama's stance that only lower tax rates for individuals making less than $200,000 be extended.

"I don't think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through," Democrat-turned-Independent Senator Joe Lieberman said in a statement Monday.

Boehner, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, said Obama's proposal to renew lower tax rates for families making less than $250,000 but allow the lower rates for wealthier Americans to expire was "bad policy" — but he will support it if he must.

"If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for it," Boehner said. "But I'm going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans."

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Senate Republicans have enough votes to block President Barack Obama's plan to extend tax cuts for the middle class while allowing those for the wealthy to expire, a spokesman for the Senate Republican leader said Monday. Republicans Monday scrambled to regroup on the tax...
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2010-35-13
Monday, 13 Sep 2010 02:35 PM
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