Boehner says he’d support a middle-class tax cut

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader John Boehner says he would vote for President Obama’s plan to extend tax cuts only for middle-class earners, not the wealthy, if that were the only option available to House Republicans.

Boehner, R-Ohio, said it is “bad policy” to exclude the highest-earning Americans from tax relief during the recession. But he said he wouldn’t block the breaks for middle-income individuals and families if Democrats won’t support the full package.

Income tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush will expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts and Obama signs the bill. Obama said he would support continuing the lower tax rates for couples earning up to $250,000 or single taxpayers making up to $200,000. But he and the Democratic leadership in Congress refused to back continued lower rates for the fewer than 3 percent of Americans who make more than that.

The cost of extending the tax cuts for everyone for the next 10 years would approach $4 trillion, according to congressional estimates. Eliminating the breaks for the top earners would reduce that bill by about $700 billion.

Boehner’s comments signaled a possible break in the logjam that has prevented passage of a tax bill, although Republicans would still force Democrats to vote on their bigger tax-cut package in the final weeks before the November congressional elections.

“I want to do something for all Americans who pay taxes,” Boehner said in an interview taped Saturday for “Face the Nation” on CBS. “If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for it. … If that’s what we can get done, but I think that’s bad policy. I don’t think that’s going to help our economy.”

Austan Goolsbee, new chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he hopes that Democratic lawmakers who also want an across-the-board extension will join Obama and others in the party in supporting legislation aimed at the middle class before the November elections.

In response to Boehner’s comments, Goolsbee said, “If he’s for that, I would be happy.”

With congressional elections less than two months away, both parties have been working to score points with voters generally unhappy with Congress. Democrats are bearing the brunt of voter anger over a stubborn recession, a weak job market and a high-spending government, giving the GOP an opening for taking back control of the House and possibly the Senate.

Democratic leaders would relish putting up a bill that extends only the middle-class tax cuts and then daring Republicans to oppose it. In response, GOP lawmakers probably would try to force votes on amendments to extend all the tax cuts, arguing that it would be a boost to the economy, and then point to those who rejected them.

A compromise over the tax-cut extensions had been suggested by some senior Democrats. In a speech last week in Cleveland, Obama rejected the idea of temporarily extending all the tax cuts for one to two years.

The tax-cut argument between Obama and Republican lawmakers focuses on whether the debt-ridden country can afford to continue Bush’s tax breaks, which were designed to expire next year. Republicans contend that cutting back on government spending ought to be the focus of efforts aimed at beginning to balance the federal budget.

If Republicans regain control of the House, they would remove Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker, a position that is second in line to the presidency after the vice president. Boehner would be the most likely successor, and he already is the focus of criticism from the Democrats’ re-election campaign.

Obama himself has been leading the charge against Boehner, traveling last week to the Republican minority leader’s home state to accuse him of offering little but stale ideas that led to the economic meltdown.

In keeping with that tactic, the Democratic National Committee said Sunday it plans to begin airing an ad Tuesday in Washington and on national cable that portrays Boehner as a supporter of tax cuts for the wealthy and a foe of spending for teachers, police officers and firefighters.

“Boehner has a different plan,” the ad states. “Tax cuts for businesses and those that shift jobs and profits overseas. Saving multinational corporations 10 billion.”

At a White House news conference Friday, Obama described the Republican proposal for a tax extension for the highest of earners as an effort “to give an average of $100,000 to millionaires.” Instead, he said, both parties should move forward on their areas of agreement.

Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Seattle cop got preferential treatment in prostitution arrest

The officer, who lives in Monroe, also serves as a commissioner for Snohomish County Fire District 7.

Don’t miss out on up to $1,800 in unemployment back pay

The state says its ready to send out payments from a federal program. Certification is due Sunday.

Mill Creek’s new mayor breaks silence over city manager

The City Council said Michael Ciaravino is meeting expectations, but some areas need improvement.

Blisters and bonding: A father and son hoof it for 40 miles

Fred Sirianni of Marysville and his son, Jake, walked 19 hours from New York City to Connecticut.

Suicide Prevention Month a reminder that help is available

Online or by phone, resources are widely accessible as millions struggle with mental health.

Yes, you could get the flu and COVID-19, so get a flu shot

Flu season officially starts Oct. 1, but shots are available now. Experts recommend not waiting.

Snohomish Historical Preservation Commission member Fred Cruger with his dog, Duffy, in Arlington along one of the history walk sections at Centennial Trail. The event will be up through September. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Discover local history as you walk the Centennial Trail

Take a smartphone quiz as you stroll the trail. If you answer every question correctly, you’ll win a prize.

Panel says full-time mayor in Lake Stevens should earn 80K

Salary commission set the figure Thursday. An Oct. 19 hearing gives residents a chance to respond

Hot button issue: Stores ask employees to remove ‘BLM’ pins

Workers say Fred Meyer and QFC stores have banned “Black Lives Matter” buttons at work.

Most Read