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Parties Settle In for Contentious Tax Fight

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is leading Republicans’ messaging blitz regarding the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.

What we have here is a good old-fashioned staring contest.

Both Democrats and Republicans believe their message on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts is a winner, and with just weeks to go before August recess, neither party is likely to back down.

House Republicans, for their part, are kicking off a 10-day messaging blitz today aimed at differentiating themselves from Democrats in the runup to the chamber’s vote on extending all of the Bush-era tax cuts.

The effort will culminate in “Stop the Tax Hike Day” on July 27 — the last Friday before the House will vote to extend the entirety of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates during the week of July 30.

House leadership is organizing Republicans to travel back to their districts and hold events with small-business owners that day, emphasizing the GOP talking point that increasing taxes on those making more than $250,000 would hurt small businesses and job creation.

President Barack Obama and most Democrats have endorsed allowing the tax cuts on those high-income earners to lapse, while extending the cuts just for those making less than $250,000.

The House GOP effort, anchored from the office of Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), will consist of op-eds, video messages, floor speeches and television and radio interviews highlighting Members’ involvement in stopping the tax hike.

“We will have two weeks to message our vision for tax reform,” according to an email from McCarthy’s office to Republican Members that was provided to Roll Call. “To successfully achieve this we will be asking each office to serve as a ‘tax fighter’ on a particular day within the next two weeks.”

McCarthy held a conference call with district directors last week to organize the effort, and Members are being encouraged to drive home specific talking points, according to communications from the House Republican Conference.

Leadership wants Members to emphasize that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, failure to extend the tax cut and a path to the alternative minimum tax would raise taxes on small businesses and Americans by $4.6 trillion over 10 years and $232 billion in 2013 alone, which would “destroy jobs during the worst employment crisis since the Great Depression.”

They emphasize polls from the National Federation of Independent Business that found that most small businesses pay their taxes as individuals and could be subject to a tax hike, and that in June, small businesses cited taxes as the most important problem they are facing today.

Furthermore, they say, according to the Joint Taxation Committee, 53 percent of business income reported on individual returns would be hit with a tax hike under the Democrats’ tax extension plan.

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