House G.O.P. Leader Signals He’s Open to Obama Tax Cut

Posted: September 12, 2010 by The STR in NEWS & LOCAL NEWS, Political NEWS & VEIWS

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WASHINGTON — The House Republican leader, RepresentativeJohn A. Boehner of Ohio, said on Sunday that he was prepared to vote in favor of legislation that would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans if Democrats insisted on continuing the lower rates only for families earning less than $250,000 a year.

 

Speaking on “Face the Nation” on CBS, Mr. Boehner made clear that he supports continuing the lower tax rates at all income levels and that he believes the Democrats would be making a mistake by increasing taxes on anyone, given the weak economy.

But Mr. Boehner said that absent any other option, he would vote in favor of legislation proposed by President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders who say they want to continue the lower rates only for Americans they regard as middle class.

“If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for them,” Mr. Boehner said, in response to questioning by the television show’s host, Bob Schieffer, who pointedly asked if Republicans were willing to hold the tax breaks for most Americans “hostage” to insist on continuing the lower rates for the highest earners.

Mr. Boehner’s position, which he had not previously articulated, represents a major strategic move by Republicans, who are increasingly optimistic about their chances of taking control of the House in November. His decision also raises pressure on Democrats, who are increasingly divided among themselves over what to do about the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of this year.

At least five Senate Democrats have already voiced public support for continuing the lower tax breaks at all income levels, at least temporarily. That suggests that Democrats could come up short of the 60 votes that they would need to overcome procedural obstacles for a bill that would allow the cuts to expire for the wealthy.

Mr. Boehner, in the interview, said he agreed with those Democrats and suggested he was content to let them fight the Democratic leadership and the White House.

“I think raising taxes in a very weak economy is a really, really bad idea,” Mr. Boehner said, adding, “I think there is a growing chorus on Capitol Hill to extend all of these tax rates.”

Mr. Boehner also made clear that he would not cast his vote quietly. “If the only option I have is to vote for those at 250 and below, of course I’m going to do that,” he 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.”

In recent days, Mr. Boehner has called for extending all of the Bush tax cuts for two years and freezing government spending at 2008 levels. In addition to the lower marginal income tax rates, aides said that Mr. Boehner would like to continue the current moratorium on the federal estate tax, which is also due to expire on Dec. 31.

The one-year elimination of the estate tax has allowed some extremely wealthy Americans to leave enormous inheritances without paying any federal tax. Republicans have long criticized the estate levy as double taxation because the assets were generally taxed once as income when they were first earned.

In the interview on Sunday, Mr. Boehner also challenged Democrats to pass the annual spending bills before the November election as a way of demonstrating their commitment to reducing federal spending.

Democrats are planning to adopt a temporary spending resolution that would finance government operations until after the election and thereby avoid a messy budget fight until the outcome of the midterm campaign is determined.

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