In September, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation that would extend all the tax cuts. He asserts, “This is the only bill that’s yet been offered that would prevent a tax hike on anyone. In other words, nobody in America would get a tax hike at the end of the year.”
A number of Democrats have indicated their support for McConnell’s legislation, including Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Fox News reports, however, “For now, Reid is sticking with the idea of extending only the tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less, which he seemed to recognize may not pass.”
According to Sen. Lieberman, “the votes are not there” to let the tax cuts for wealthier Americans expire.
Sen. Chuck Schumer proposed raising the threshold for tax cuts from $250,000 to $1 million, a measure that he perceived to be a compromise between the Democrats and Republicans.
Reid remains intent on voting for the tax cuts only at the $250,000 level, saying “I could go for either a short term extension of middle income tax cuts or make it permanent.”
Fox News relates, “Democratic leaders have been struggling to figure out what to do about the tax cuts for some time. And some grumbled about a lack of direction from the White House. But after a meeting with the President at the White House … one Democratic leader said President Obama will let lawmakers take the lead.”
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois explained: “Well, the White House is acknowledging the obvious. The decision is going to be made by Congress and it’s going to be made during the course of negotiation.”
With a number of Democrats in both houses siding with the Republicans on this issue, however, negotiations appear limited.
Sen. Reid appears to pose the greatest obstacle to the extension of the Bush tax cuts, prompting Sen. McConnell to emphasize, “The deadline to prevent a tax hike on every American taxpayer is January 1, and the clock is ticking.”
He adds, “While some in Congress have a strange desire to raise taxes on hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country, Republicans and a growing chorus of Democrats believe that no one should have the government take even more out of their paycheck next year.”
A number of votes on extending the tax cuts are expected to take place in the weeks leading up to the expiration date, as Reid contends, “We want to give the Republicans an opportunity to vote on McConnell’s legislation, and we want opportunity and maybe a plural vote. We have to do it more than once, twice, whatever it takes, to show the American people that we support the middle class.”
Photo: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: AP Images