“We must now choose between allowing interest rates to rise or piling billions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers,” he said. “I have serious concerns about any proposal that simply kicks the can down the road and creates more uncertainty in the long run.”
Duncan said Obama will have more to say about how to pay for it this week.
The differences between the two parties crystallized during last week’s floor fights over taxes. Democrats and the White House are looking to raise taxes on millionaires by $47 billion over a decade with the Buffett Rule, while House Republicans passed their $46 billion one-year tax cut.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) made a direct link to the payroll tax fight.
“Remember the battle not that long ago, just a few months ago, when we wanted a 2 percent payroll tax cut for working families and ... the House Republicans were resisting us until the very, very end?” Durbin asked. Cantor’s tax cut bill was “good news for Donald Trump, good news for Oprah Winfrey, bad news for working families across America.”
Cantor’s bill broadly defines small businesses, which means billion-dollar businesses with fewer than 500 employees would be eligible for a tax break under his legislation.
The White House veto threat blasted the Cantor plan as potentially hurting job growth, not helping it, by encouraging owners to delay hiring to juice short-term profits.
Cantor countered attacks on the bill with a simple message: “We need to let small-business owners keep more of their hard-earned money so they can start hiring again,” he said on the floor. “Our bill puts more money into the hands of small-business owners so they can reinvest those funds to retain and create more jobs and grow their businesses. Plain and simple.”
The fight is sure to play out over the coming weeks, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) planning a vote on the Democratic alternative package after next week’s recess.
House Republicans, meanwhile, are scoring victories of their own. They point to last week’s veto-proof majority for a transportation bill with the Keystone XL pipeline attached as a stunning rebuke for the president. They ridiculed Obama’s rollout of yet another effort aimed at taming oil market speculation even as the White House struggled to point to evidence that such speculation exists and to explain why it hasn’t used powers the administration already has to tackle it.
The move was no more than a desperate attempt to distract from the increase in gas prices on the president’s watch, Republicans said.
They also jumped on signs of weakening growth. And with polls showing Obama in a close race with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Republicans see a White House floundering for issues.
“While the White House fritters away its time on gimmicks and tertiary issues, Republicans are driving an agenda focused on the things Americans care about — jobs and gas prices,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Trite catchphrases and empty slogans can only distract folks for so long.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.