From The Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, said yesterday they are opposed to an extension of tax cuts for middle-income families unless cuts also are extended for the wealthiest Americans, setting up a defining showdown with President Obama in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.
The Senate signaled its determination after the Republican leader in the House, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, stunned Washington on Sunday by saying he was ready to compromise as a last resort and back Obama’s plan to extend cuts for middle-income families while letting those for the highest wage earners expire.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell dug in with an all-or-nothing approach and his spokesman said he had enough votes to block anything that falls short of a continuation of cuts for taxpayers in every bracket.
Although Democrats continued to accuse the GOP of holding middle-class tax cuts hostage in a bid to benefit the rich, Obama’s position was complicated by the potential defection of some centrist Senate Democrats who also want tax cuts extended for everyone.
The debate amounts to game of high-stakes chicken over an emotional pocketbook issue that touches on voters’ economic anxieties and populist resentment. If Congress cannot cut a deal by the end of the year, all the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. For middle-income families in Massachusetts — those whose total income is between $66,000 and $97,000 — that could mean an average increase in their tax bill of $1,831.
“We could get that done this week,’’ [President Obama] said. “But we’re still in this wrestling match with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell about the last 2 to 3 percent, where, on average, we’d be giving them $100,000 for people making a million dollars or more — which in and of itself would be OK, except to do it, we’d have to borrow $700 billion over the course of 10 years. And we just can’t afford it.’’
In addition to Boehner’s evident willingness to cut a deal, there is pressure for compromise from some Democrats, like Senators Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. They are siding with Republicans against raising taxes on anyone in a fragile economic recovery.
Independent Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats, has said he wants tax cuts extended to everyone but would not vote against a bill that contained reductions only for low- and middle-income payers.
The Republican position drew a rebuke from one of the wealthier senators, Bay State Democrat John F. Kerry, who said in a statement: “It’s just plain wrong that there’s lockstep obstruction proposing to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage.’’
In an informal Globe poll yesterday of the Massachusetts contingent in Washington, Kerry and all members of the all-Democratic House delegation were behind the president’s plan to allow tax cuts on the wealthy to expire.
Representative Michael Capuano, for instance, said he will not vote to extend cuts permanently for higher wage earners and signaled that he believes Republicans are playing unfairly. “We either have to give Republicans everything they want or they’ll take their ball and go home? Well, go home then,’’ he said.
Representative Barney Frank said he, too, is not prepared to compromise, saying he doesn’t believe McConnell has the votes and will filibuster tax cuts for the middle class. (McConnell’s spokesman said the Senate minority leader was not threatening a filibuster yesterday.) “I know he’s got 41 Republican senators, but I don’t think he’s got 41 automatons,’’ Frank said.
There’s lots more in the article, with Dems who are for and against extending the tax cuts for the richest people.