Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Parties Maneuver to Gain Advantage on Taxes

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer on Tuesday criticized a Republican tax proposal that would not extend some middle-class tax benefits from the 2009 stimulus law pushed by President Barack Obama.

Democratic aides have said that if the bill could pass with only a simple majority, Reid’s version would pass the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), for instance, said he would support Reid’s package.

Neither side has produced a bill that includes all of the tax benefits that Senators want to keep going, so it is unclear whether either party is well-served by wading too far into other parts of the tax code.

The House version avoids similar specifics. Also on Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) unveiled his own tax cut extension plan with Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.). The House GOP proposal, like language floated by Senate Republicans, would help expedite legislation to overhaul the tax code next year while extending the existing tax rates for another year.

“Despite more than three years of high unemployment, the President and Democrats who control Washington are calling for higher taxes that will eliminate more than 700,000 jobs,” Camp said in a statement introducing the bill. “That is the wrong direction, and I call on President Obama and Congressional Democrats to join Republicans and abandon their pursuit of job-killing tax hikes.”

In the midst of the tax speechmaking on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have staged a parallel campaign at a think tank on the other side of town. In the past two weeks, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) have appeared at the Brookings Institution to write the history of the failure of last year’s deficit reduction super committee. The two tracks could collide in the lame duck if the work product from the various deficit-slashing panels is to become the basis for a final deal.

Toomey appeared at the think tank Tuesday morning to rebut Murray’s claim from last week that his debt reduction offer would have given bigger tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Toomey said the tax proposal he had floated would be adjusted to ensure that effective tax rates would not increase for lower-income taxpayers.

Responding to Murray’s suggestion that allowing all of the Bush tax cuts to expire would be preferable to extending current rates on the upper brackets, Toomey said taxpayers will not be easily deceived by “gymnastics” about tax rates.

“We’re not going to fool anybody, and I wouldn’t want to try,” Toomey said.


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