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Democrats Take Aim at Business Tax Breaks

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might force a series of votes on eliminating corporate tax breaks in the coming weeks.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also went to the Senate floor before his meeting Monday with President Barack Obama and ripped Democratic proposals for another round of stimulus spending and tax increases. “My message to the president is really quite simple,” he said. “It’s time for Washington to focus on fixing itself. It’s time for Washington to take the hit, not the taxpayers.”

How Democrats might bring tax loophole votes to the floor isn’t clear; Democrats have been frustrated repeatedly by a tactic they decry as “filibuster-by-amendment” from Republicans who offer divisive proposals to relatively noncontroversial bills. The GOP counters that Democrats have not brought much of an agenda to the floor and have run from the most basic tenet of governing — passing a budget.

Without an aggressive Democratic agenda to oppose, the GOP has been hijacking relatively modest measures on the floor for scores of unrelated amendments.

McConnell said Sunday that he would force a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution the week of July 18.

Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said McConnell might not get his way.

“He can say it all he wants, but the schedule is up to the Majority Leader,” Jentleson said.

At any rate, the amendment gives Republicans a talking point and a more ambitious agenda item than Democrats have tried to move all year.

Democrats have already started messaging against the balanced budget amendment as a death knell for Medicare.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), who represented Democrats in the debt talks, called the proposal “merely another method to end the Medicare guarantee while protecting tax earmarks for corporate special interests and expanding tax breaks for millionaires.”

Democratic aides said they’ve forced more tough votes on Republicans than vice versa — including holding a vote on the House budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). That plan calls for turning Medicare into a subsidy for private insurance plans for future retirees.

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