WASHINGTON — Incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Thursday dismissed an ultimately successful attempt by House Democrats to extend middle-class tax cuts as “chicken crap” and “nonsense.”
“I’m trying to catch my breath so I don’t refer to this maneuver going on today as chicken crap, all right? But this is nonsense, all right?” Boehner told reporters at the Capitol.
“The election was one month ago. There are 23 months from the next election and the political games have already started to try to set up the next election,” he said.
The measure, which extends Bush-era tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of Americans, passed the House comfortably Thursday afternoon by a margin of 234-188, with 20 Democrats opposed and 3 Republicans voting yes.
Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed his GOP opponents were protecting the rich at the expense of the middle class.
“Making sure CEOs have more money lining their pockets appears to be more important to Republicans than making sure seniors can keep up with the cost of gas and groceries,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in a statement. “Republicans are willing to grind our work to a halt in order to pass tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and CEOs who ship American jobs overseas, but they refuse to give a basic cost-of-living increase to seniors who rely on Social Security. Clearly, Republicans care more about CEOs than seniors.”
But the bill faces virtually insurmountable opposition from Senate Republicans, who have promised to block the measure if it excludes additional tax cuts for the top 2 percent.
It’s therefore highly unlikely to pass the upper chamber in the lame-duck session, and even less likely after the 112th Congress is sworn in late January. The White House admits compromise will be necessary.
“The President continues to believe that extending middle class tax cuts is the most important thing we can do for our economy right now and he applauds the House for passing a permanent extension,” said White House spokesman Robert Gates. “But, because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has asked Director Lew and Secretary Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward.”
The move appears to have been largely symbolic on the part of Democrats, designed to appease its progressive base, which has been pushing hard to end the tax cuts for the wealthy.
The following video is of Boehner’s remarks, captured by Talking Points Memo.