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House Passes Middle-Class Tax Cuts Over GOP Objections

4 years ago
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The House of Representatives voted 234 to 188 Thursday to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts on incomes up to $250,000. Also included in the bill were a two-year delay of the Alternative Minimum Tax, an elimination of the marriage penalty tax, and permanent increases to the child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit.

Twenty Democrats voted against the bill, and three Republican supported it.

Although the bill passed, a vocal minority of Republicans objected to an earlier vote by House Democrats to prevent GOP members from offering their own bill to make the tax cuts permanent for all Americans, including the highest earners. The House voted to block amendments to the bill 213 to 203 -- with 32 Democrats defecting from the Democratic leadership -- on a procedural move that speaker-in-waiting John Boehner derided.

"I'm tying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this maneuver that's going on today as chicken crap. But this is nonsense, right?" Boehner said. "The election was one month ago. We're 23 months from the next election and the games have already started to set up the next election."

Boehner also led the charge of House Republicans against the bill that ultimately passed, calling any legislation that does not extend all of the Bush tax cuts to everyone nothing more than a tax increase.

But a chorus of Democrats speaking from the House floor before the vote disagreed.

"The only thing certain about taxes these days is that the Republicans are going to use them to take from the poor and give to the rich again and again and again," Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said on the House floor. "They are determined to take care of the rich . . . It isn't fair to the unemployed people in this country that the (rich) get their money for sure, while we dole it out to the unemployed one bite at a time."

Rep. Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from New York, stood beside a giant picture of the late Leona Helmsley cuddling her dog, Trouble, who inherited $12 million from Helmsley's estate when she died. "Under the Republican plan, if Trouble doesn't get a tax break, nobody else should," Crowley said. "Under the Republicans' plan, this country will go to the dogs. They'll protect this little dog, but they won't protect the middle class of this country."

While the liberal Democrats framed their their case as the rich versus the poor, moderates like Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) argued that the country can no longer afford to keep tax cuts for the wealthy in place. "With our annual deficits now approaching $1 trillion and our debt approaching $14 trillion, it's the right thing to do to make sure our economy is on a sustainable future," Van Hollen said.

Before the vote, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer pleaded with Republicans to join Democrats, saying they all agree that tax cuts should be extended for the middle class.

"My suspicion is that almost everybody, if not everybody on the floor, wants to make sure that the first $250,000 of income of any American is not subjected to a tax increase on January 1st," Hoyer said. "The issue is whether we're going to hold hostage the first $250,000 of income of every American or whether we're going to say we resolve that."

Wrapping up the debate for the Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took issue with the fact that Republicans earlier blocked extended unemployment insurance, insisting that it not add to the deficit, but have not made the same demand of tax cuts they want to continue.

"This is so grossly unfair," Pelosi said. "I can't imagine that my colleagues on the other side don't want to give a tax cut to the middle class. Why don't they just vote for that?"

But one Republican after another said they would vote for middle-class tax cuts, only if they could also vote to extend tax cuts for higher incomes at the same time.

"Increasing taxes is a prescription for failure. It undermines the potential for economic growth," said Rep. David Drier (R-Calif.) "The fact of the matter is that any member of this House that votes in favor of the measure before us is voting for a tax increase. They are voting in favor of increasing taxes on American businesses and investors."

Drier called it "preposterous" that Democrats were arguing that voting for a larger tax cut would increase the deficit, saying upper-income tax cuts could help small business create jobs.

"If we can get people from the unemployment rolls onto the working rolls, that in itself is evidence that we are going to increase the revenue in this country," Drier said.

As the time ticked toward a vote, Republicans continued to accuse Democrats of politicizing the tax-cut issue to embarrass the GOP.

"Clearly this bill is going nowhere. Democrats are wasting time while Americans are looking for work," said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.). "Democrats are playing games while Americans struggle to make ends meet."

But Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that wrote the bill, shot back, "This isn't about politics, Mr. Camp. This is about people."

Now that the bill has passed the House, it will face immediate -- and likely fatal -- opposition in the Senate from Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who predicted Thursday that the bill will fail in the Senate.

"This is a purely political exercise," McConnell said. "Ask any business owner in America what we could do to help them create jobs and they'll tell you it's to give them certainty about their taxes. . . Wasting time on votes to raise taxes won't create jobs."

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Funny they are accusing Dems of playing games when they are indeed playing their own game. The wealthy have by far benefitted the most from this country. Our middle-class is shrinking and the poor are growing at an alarming rate ... yet they want to continue the failed policies of the Bush era ... and era I will remind everyone that lead to the situation we are currently in. This is simply politicians in the pockets of the have's trying to make permanent something which should not be permanent. Our military relies on tax money to be prepared and paid for, our fire departments, police departments, postal service, roads, public services all rely on tax money. Stop shouldering it onto the middle class, that's what's killing job creation. That's what's killing small business. Let those who benefit the most from the system show their support by putting something back into it.

January 13 2011 at 4:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The individual income taxes, inheritance tax and the lowered taxes on interest and dividends were put in as temporary tax breaks and were meant to expire at the end of this year. The only tax the Democrats want to let expire are the taxes of the top 2% of earners income tax. The taxes in question are personal income taxes....not business taxes! Most millionaires and billionaires invest their money in property,stocks, bonds or for luxury items. They do not use their personal income taxes to open or expand a business. If they own a business and expand it, the money comes out of the Company's funds not out of the owners personal funds. The Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy, but at the same time they're clamoring about our national debt. They're holding out issuing additional unemployment checks and holding off on extending the middle class tax rates until they get everything their way. They don't want the unemployment checks to be extended unless the government finds a way to pay for them....however they do not seem to be concerned about how to pay for the billions in extending the tax breaks for the very wealthy

December 08 2010 at 12:08 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jay3p's comment

they can pay for unemployment end the gosh dam war 300billion the Russians were in Afghanistan for 10 years and lost were in there for 7 and were losing the friggen war

December 13 2010 at 2:54 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Since when is it the responsibility of those who work hard and are successful to pay for those who work less or are less ambitious? I don't recall that being in our Constitution. We are free in this country to make a lot or make a little and that is determined by each of us individually. Why not go for the real reason our deficit is so high? Unions & govt workers who get inflated pensions and health care for life. And while we're at it how about making the Congress subject to the same healthcare, social security & self-funded retirement as the rest of us?? That would take a bite out of the defict real fast.

December 07 2010 at 9:18 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kshanahan03's comment

Since the top 2% are not necesarily "working hard". They are capitalizing on investments and usually inheriting their billions. Not really what I'd call "hard working". You complain about Unions but do you know what businesses did to workers before the Unions were in place? Yes, the Unions like any organization are subject to corruption but that old argument has more holes in it than Dick Cheney's hunting partner had in his face.
What our owners want, yes OUR owners: the rich guys who have the GOP in their pockets, is your retirement. They want your Social Security and they want everything you have so they can earn that-much-more next year cause the greed is out of control. You buy into it cause they have changed the debate and they have a host of talking heads out there convincing you that it's in your best interests to let them not-have-to pay back into a system that they have reaped so much from. The burden will be shifted onto your shoulders and the rest of the disappearing middle class. Speaking of Healthcare, the GOP has decided not to give full disclosure on the fact that they get federally funded health care ... I wonder why.

January 13 2011 at 4:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Exactly how does keeping tax cuts in place take from the poor and give to the rich? The "Rich" already pay a much higher tax percentage and the top earners pay a disproportionate share of taxes.

December 07 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Republicans have been trying to cut all entitlments since the 30s they want to bring back the good ole days of hoover villes, no goverment regualtions, no social security, no unemployment insurance, no medi care, no veteran benfits, no public education, no food stamps, and as there saying bussiness dosent need for the fed to regulate, they will police themselves

December 06 2010 at 11:16 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
TD Trade Today

Trickle Down theory = ponzi scheme = pyramid scheme It hasnt worked yet Flat tax without any loop holes, so that everyone can do there taxes with one easy calculation on the back of a napkin. We dont need a tax code the size of ten telephone books.

December 06 2010 at 11:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Chicken Crap

December 06 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

God have mercy on us all, the dems wont. The taxes will not go down, the dems saw to that. Cut all money going to other countries. How many trillion dollars are going to other countries. it is time to take care of Americans who pay taxes in the first place.

December 06 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Hey Tea Partiers, feeling happy now? The money spent by big banks and job outsourcers to buy your votes will be put to good use in making sure that the rich keep their tax cuts and the middle class continues to pay for the ruin brought on the economy by the same big banks and job outsourcers. You can thank the GOP for that.

December 06 2010 at 8:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It has never been more clear that the Republican agenda is not about responsiblity. The top 2 percent of society, who will never have to be concerned where their next meal is coming from ha,s a greater responsbility to pay the bills of this country. This increase on them is really very marginal, however for the average person a tax increase is the differnce between eating snack ramen or beef stew. The rich do hire people, however, they only hire people when they can get loans to hire people. They don't use there tax decrease money to hire people. They use that money to continue a luxurous lifestyle. I think to equate tax reductions=more hiring is really does not square with historical reality. Marshall Keeseee

December 06 2010 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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