Vulnerable Ark. senator hints support for tax cuts

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln said Friday that she’s open to extending tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration beyond the middle-class cuts that President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress want to maintain.

The Democrat, considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Washington, said she may support including those who make as much as $1 million a year.

Obama and Democratic leaders have said that after the November elections, they want to extend tax cuts for individuals making less $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000. Republicans and a growing number of rank-and-file Democrats want to extend them all — even those for the wealthy — at least temporarily.

Lincoln indicated that she thinks a compromise is possible.

“I don’t think we should have to say that we’re either going to extend the Bush tax cuts or we’re going to take on the Obama tax cuts,” Lincoln told reporters after speaking to the Pulaski County Bar Association. “I think, as a Congress, it’s our responsibility to look at the economic circumstances that exist and what the opportunities are to make sure it fits the needs of what we have today.”

During her speech to the group, Lincoln said she believed it was reasonable to consider extending the tax cuts for those making between $250,000 and $1 million a year. Lincoln said any tax cuts beyond that would have to be paid for in the budget.

Her Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, has said he supports fully extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone. Boozman has said limiting the cuts to the middle class would hurt small businesses. The tax cuts expire at the end of the year.

Most polls show Lincoln trailing Boozman, whose congressional district spans northwest Arkansas.

Lincoln, who survived a bruising primary campaign for her party’s nomination earlier this year, complained Friday that there are groups trying to stir up fear and anger among voters so that they won’t get involved on election day. Lincoln later wouldn’t say whether she believed Boozman was part of that effort.

“There’s a lot of negativity, there’s a lot of fear and anger that’s being churned up so that people hopefully will be complacent and not go to the polls and so that people will be angry and instead of getting out there and working hard and figuring out how to solve our problems, they want people to whine,” Lincoln said.