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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Lawmakers unlikely to extend tax cuts before election

    WASHINGTON — In a strategy that poses both political risks and potential rewards, congressional Democrats signaled Thursday they are unlikely to take action extending Bush administration-era tax cuts until after the November election.

    The delay, at a time of growing voter concern over the sluggish economy, is certain to keep the tax cut debate swirling through the mid-term elections.

    The tax cuts are due to expire Dec. 31, but Democratic legislative leaders promised to return to Washington in November to prevent taxes from rising for taxpayers making less than $250,000.

    However, Republicans want tax cuts extended for wealthier taxpayers as well, a move President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders oppose.

    “”Democrats believe we must permanently extend tax cuts for the middle-class before they expire at the end of the year, and we will,”” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader. “”Unfortunately, to this point we have received no cooperation from Republicans to do so.””

    With just days remaining before Congress adjourns to campaign full-time — and with Republicans pressing to extend the tax cuts for even the high-income earners — Senate Democrats decided to punt the issue to a lame-duck session of Congress that would be held after the Nov. 2 election but before the tax cuts expire in December.

    “”The reality is nothing’s going to happen before the election,”” said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the Democratic whip.

    Democrats in the House still may act on the issue before the election.

    But Democrats, facing the potential loss of control of Congress, are wary of taking a vote that their opponents could charge represents a tax hike.

    Republicans repeatedly have defended tax cuts for those making $250,000 and above as an incentive for business owners.

    “”I, for one, subscribe to the notion that we ought to have the vote to extend the tax cuts for those who really need them,”” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who is retiring.

    But Dodd acknowledged: “”Tax policy is not our strongest political argument with the American people; we know that as well.””

    After a closed-door caucus meeting on the issue Thursday afternoon, Democrats emerged with no apparent resolution.

    Sen. Even Bayh, D-Ind., who also is retiring, said senators who are not up for re-election tend to favor a vote on the issue, while those in the midst of campaigns prefer not to have a vote.

    Party strategists offered mixed views on which side might benefit from the impasse.

    “”It helps Republicans make the case that (Democrats) are not committed to taking the steps to helping our economy,”” said Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash.

    But Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who is in a tough re-election battle for a second term, was happy to let the debate linger over the campaign.

    “”The point has been made: The Republicans, almost to a member, are in favor of tax cuts for the rich,”” he said.

    Unconcerned that he would be tarred as favoring a tax hike on the higher-wage earners, he shrugged: “”In my district, we have about three.””

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