United States Se­nate to take sym­bolic votes on taxes to­day

The Pak Banker - - International3 -

WASHINGTON: The Se­nate will vote on two Demo­cratic op­tions to ex­tend some Bush-era tax cuts on Satur­day, its Demo­cratic leader said, mea­sures likely to fail but high­light deep ide­o­log­i­cal di­vi­sions be­tween the par­ties.

Demo­cratic Se­nate Leader Harry Reid had been set to sched­ule four votes on Fri­day on com­pet­ing Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic tax plans to re­new some or all of the lower tax rates en­acted un­der for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

But the deal fell apart af­ter at least one Repub­li­can ob­jected, deny­ing needed unan­i­mous Se­nate con­sent, Reid said.

"We're dis­ap­pointed," Reid told re­porters.

The votes on Satur­day on the two Demo­cratic bills will un­der­score the party's aim to re­new tax re­lief for lower-and mid­dle-in­come Amer­i­cans and Repub­li­cans' de­sire to ex­tend them for all tax­pay­ers, in­clud­ing the wealth­i­est.

But Se­nate Repub­li­can leader Mitch McCon­nell ac­cused his op­po­nents in a state­ment late on Thurs­day of stag­ing a mean­ing­less "po­lit­i­cal show vote" that would run afoul of Repub­li­cans and "a grow­ing cho­rus of Democrats" in the Se­nate.

"It's time to get se­ri­ous," McCon­nell said. "Ev­ery day spent on a po­lit­i­cal show-vote is an­other day that Democrats won't be able to de­bate items that should ac­tu­ally pass."

On Thurs­day, the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in the wan­ing days of Demo­cratic con­trol, passed an ex­ten­sion of the Bush-era tax cuts for fam­ily in­comes of up to $250,000.

That mea­sure, ap­proved on a largely party-line vote of 234-188, ap­pears cer­tain to die in the Se­nate.

The Se­nate will vote on a mea­sure sim­i­lar to the Housep­a­ssed bill, along with a com­pro­mise mea­sure of­fered by Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Charles Schumer, which would let the top tax rates ex­pire only on in­come above $1 mil­lion a year. "We want to lay it out there and fi­nally get votes on what we're for," Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Tom Harkin said af­ter a meet­ing with Democrats late on Thurs­day. "I sup­pose af­ter this is over we'll get down to see what we can fi­nally get done."

Demo­cratic aides said Repub­li­cans had of­fered two al­ter­na­tives, one to per­ma­nently re­new all tax cuts, the other to ex­tend them for five years.

Most Democrats say Repub­li­cans are will­ing to jeop­ar­dize low tax rates for mid­dle-and lower-in­come tax­pay­ers to en­sure low taxes for the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans.

The mea­sures set for a vote on Satur­day are not likely to muster the needed 60 votes in the 100-mem­ber cham­ber to clear a Repub­li­can pro­ce­dural road­block. Mean­while, con­gres­sional lead­ers and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials are set to con­tinue pri­vate talks of their own. -Reuters

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