Bush-era tax cuts

A de­ci­sion won’t be made un­til af­ter the fall elec­tion, a risky or re­ward­ing move.

Los Angeles Times - - Front Page - Lisa Mas­caro re­port­ing from washington

Se­nate Democrats post­pone any ex­ten­sion un­til af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tions.

Se­nate Democrats de­cided Thurs­day to post­pone any ac­tion on ex­tend­ing Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion-era tax cuts un­til af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tion, a move that will keep the tax cut de­bate swirling through the midterm cam­paign.

Democrats and Pres­i­dent Obama want to keep the tax cuts in place only for tax­pay­ers mak­ing less than $250,000. Repub­li­cans want tax cuts ex­tended for wealth­ier tax­pay­ers as well.

The de­lay, at a time of grow­ing voter con­cern over the slug­gish econ­omy, poses both po­lit­i­cal risks and po­ten­tial re­wards to Demo­cratic lead­ers.

With just days re­main­ing be­fore Congress ad­journs to cam­paign full-time — and with Repub­li­cans press­ing to ex­tend the tax cuts for even high-in­come earn­ers — Se­nate Democrats de­cided to punt the is­sue to a lame­duck ses­sion of Congress that would be held af­ter the Nov. 2 elec­tion but be­fore the tax cuts ex­pire De­cem­ber 31.

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

“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 Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Un­for­tu­nately, to this point we have re­ceived no co­op­er­a­tion from Repub­li­cans to do so.”

Democrats in the House still may act on the is­sue be­fore the elec­tion, but are wary of a vote that could be rep­re­sented as a tax hike.

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

Af­ter a closed-door cau­cus meet­ing on the is­sue Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Sen. Even Bayh (D-Ind.), who is re­tir­ing, said sen­a­tors who are not up for re­elec­tion tended to fa­vor a vote on the is­sue, while those in the midst of cam­paigns pre­fer not to have a vote.

Strate­gists of­fered mixed views on which party 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 re­elec­tion bat­tle, was happy to let the de­bate linger.

“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 higher-wage earn­ers, he shrugged: “In my district, we have about three.”

lmas­caro@tribune.com

Jim Lo Scalzo

CON­FIRMED: Sen. Richard Durbin says, “The re­al­ity is noth­ing’s go­ing to hap­pen be­fore the elec­tion.”

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