WASHINGTON – If you’re searching for fighting spirit from Democrats ahead of November, look no further.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday said through a spokesman that he and his caucus would be willing to vote against continuing middle class tax cuts if Democrats don’t extend them for the richest few percent as well – prompting a piercing response from the Democratic National Committee.
“The idea that Mitch McConnell and Republicans would hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to tax breaks for their super rich lobbyist and CEO friends should be an affront to all Americans,” DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse told Raw Story in an e-mail, “and should tell voters this Fall all they need to know about the difference in priorities between Democrats and Republicans.”
As Congress heads for a showdown on the issue, Woodhouse’s remarks echo President Barack Obama’s insistence that the middle class tax cuts should be continued while the tax breaks for the wealthiest must expire to help cut the deficit. They also suggest that Democrats aren’t hesitating to stand their ground on what has become a major campaign issue for the November midterms.
The tax cuts in debate would affect the top 2 to 3 percent of income-earners in America and cost roughly $700 billion to extend. The GOP supports an extension of all the tax cuts, and McConnell claimed Senate Republicans would block the extension of middle class tax breaks if the wealthy don’t get theirs, too.
“That’s a debate we’re happy to have,” McConnell said to the Washington Post. “That’s the kind of debate that unifies my caucus.”
“Well, it’s not just McConnell,” Woodhouse said in the e-mail, “it seems to be the prevailing view among Republicans that if millionaires and billionaires can’t get tax cuts then neither can a convenience store clerk or a single mom working two jobs. This of course is coming from Republican Senators whose families and themselves don’t want for anything in life.”
House Republican leader John Boehner (R-OH), who is hoping to become Speaker in January, created some discomfort within the GOP when he said he would not block the tax cuts package if the wealthiest were to be excluded. No Republicans appear to have backed him.
Republicans claim the high-end tax cuts are necessary to boost the economy, a point disputed by Democrats and Congressional Budget Office estimates, which say they would affect few small businesses and have a minimal stimulative effect.