CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
July 10, 2012 – 10:34 p.m.
Reid Pledges Obama Tax Plan Vote
By Sam Goldfarb, CQ Staff
Despite some division in their ranks, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to vote on President Obama’s proposed one-year extension of the George W. Bush administration’s tax cuts on household income below $250,000.
A day after Obama unveiled his plan to deal with the year-end expiration of tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 (PL 107-16, PL 108-27), Senate Majority Leader
A Democratic leadership aide said the middle-income tax cut extension would be one of the next two bills the Senate takes up after it finishes consideration this week of a tax cut measure for businesses that hire new workers. At that point, the Senate will also vote on a GOP alternative that would preserve current tax rates for all taxpayers for another 12 months, the aide said.
Although some Democrats have lobbied to continue the Bush tax cuts on incomes up to $1 million, instead of $250,000, that option will probably not come up for a vote, aides said.
Speaking to reporters after Senate Democrats met for almost two hours with Treasury Secretary
“All of our work should be focused on the middle class, the 98 percent we’re trying to protect, people who need these tax cuts to help put the food on the table, buy some gas for their car, pay their rent and their mortgage,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader
Hiring Credit Sets Debate
Clearing the way for a weeklong discussion of tax policy, the Senate voted 80-14 on Tuesday to proceed to legislation (
Although several Republicans have dismissed the hiring tax credit as a gimmick, a majority of GOP senators supported the procedural motion in the hopes that they can amend the bill when it comes to the floor.
Among the amendments Republicans would like to offer is one by Senate Finance ranking member
Asked whether he would allow a vote on Hatch’s amendment, Reid promised to “move through this amendment by amendment and see what we can work through.”
Given Reid’s plan to consider the Bush tax cuts later on in the month, however, it seemed unlikely he would permit a vote on Hatch’s amendment in the present context, making it unlikely Republicans would allow a final vote on the hiring tax credit.
Reid Pledges Obama Tax Plan Vote
Touting their business tax cuts, Democrats offered evidence that the hiring tax credit would create nearly a million new jobs. But even they were mostly focused on the bigger picture and the critical questions raised by the prospect of significantly higher taxes on most Americans if Congress fails to act before Jan. 1.
Pass Now, Revisit Later
Unlike Republicans, Democrats have not been unified on how to handle the lapse of the Bush tax cuts. Obama has been consistent in calling for an effective tax increase on household income above $250,000. But many Democrats, including conservatives and even some liberal lawmakers who represent wealthier constituents, have preferred to raise taxes only on annual income beyond $1 million.
Reid could find it difficult to ensure that legislation backing the Obama plan, which would extend the tax cuts for a year for single filers’ incomes up to $200,000 and couples’ incomes up to $250,000, is supported by at least 50 senators. Even if all but a few Democrats vote for the bill, a vote short of the 50-vote threshold could be a setback for Obama on a key issue in his re-election campaign.
Facing high political stakes, Democrats projected an upbeat mood as they emerged from their meeting with Geithner and Axelrod. Several said that although there are differences of opinion on the proper income threshold, they agree that $250,000 is the right level to push for at this point in the debate. Some suggested there may be room for negotiation later about reinstituting the lower tax rates for annual household incomes between $250,000 and $1 million.
“At this point, I think it would be very smart for the United States Congress to take a step for what we can all agree on,” said Sen.
“I think there was broad agreement that that is an entirely reasonable place to be,” said Senate Budget Chairman
Joseph J. Schatz contributed to this story.