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Roll Call

Republicans Seek Immediate Action on Tax, Spending Cuts

The top Republicans on three House committees on Monday called on their Democratic counterparts to clear committee agendas immediately and begin work on a bipartisan bill to create jobs by freezing spending and cutting taxes.

In their letter to the chairmen of the Ways and Means, Appropriations and Budget Committees, Ranking Members Dave Camp (Mich.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) proposed the House work to enact a two–point plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years and freeze non-security discretionary spending at 2008 levels.

“The spending cuts would be enacted now, to avert the possibility of Congress using a lame duck session to pass a bloated spending bill for next year after the November elections, and would include common-sense exceptions for programs affecting our seniors, veterans, and national security,” the Members wrote, according to a copy obtained by Roll Call.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed the plan in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week.

Republicans have argued if tax cuts, which were enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush, are not extended across the board, small-business owners will not have the confidence to start hiring again for fear of a tax hike. The tax cuts are set to expire Jan. 1.

“It is painfully clear that excessive spending by government, coupled with the looming threat of a $3.8 trillion tax hike on January 1 that will raise taxes on 56% of all business income — including on the vast majority of the small businesses that are the engines of job creation — will further discourage private-sector job creation,” the Members wrote.

President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are in favor of extending tax cuts to the middle class but oppose extending them to the upper income brackets. Senior Democrats have derided the GOP “two-point plan” as simply a rehash of failed Bush-era Republican policies.

Even though Republicans have pushed hard for an across-the-board extension of the tax cuts, it is not clear whether they would oppose a bill targeted to the middle class.

Sunday morning, Boehner told CBS he would support the partial extension, even though he thought to do so was “bad policy.”

“If the only option I have is to vote for those at [$250,000] and below, of course I’m going to do that,” Boehner said on CBS’ “Face the Nation." But he seemed to walk back those comments Sunday evening, issuing a statement that decried "tired old class warfare rhetoric, pitting one working American against another."

"If the president is serious about job creation, there's a clear way forward, and that's for us to come together and pass legislation immediately that cuts spending to 2008 levels for the next year and stops all of the coming tax hikes by freezing all current tax rates for the next two years. Anything short of that may selfishly check a political box for the president, but it fails the American people," he said.

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