Democratic Senate campaign chief says party is open to temporary extension of Bush tax cuts for wealthy

Chris Moody Contributor
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New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said Sunday that Democrats are open to temporarily extending the Bush-era tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year, which are set to expire at the end of this year.

“I certainly believe that there may be some opportunity for a temporary approval of some of these cuts,” Menendez, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “But we’ll have to see what can be worked out.”

Menendez made clear that Democratic leaders were completely closed to the idea that the tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 be made permanent, citing the $4 trillion impact on the national deficit.

“That’s not going to happen,” he said. “What we will not support, certainly what I will not support is a permanent extension.”

When the dust settles after Tuesday’s election, one of the most pressing concerns that Congress plans to address in the lame-duck session is whether to extend all or some of the tax cuts. Republicans have resoundingly said they will only support an extension for all Americans, while Democrats have argued for extending them to only households earning less than $250,000. The debate over whether to extend the tax cuts erupted before Congress adjourned to campaign for this year’s mid-term elections without putting it to a vote.

Ultimately, the fate of the tax cuts will come down to President Obama. The White House is reportedly considering a plan to de-couple the tax cuts, which would make them permanent for households earning less than $250,000 and extend them temporarily for those who earn more. In the worst-case scenario for taxpayers, neither party will compromise and the new Congress will have to address the issue in January after all the tax cuts expire.

Menendez’s Republican counterpart, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, also appeared on “This Week,” and said he is seeing support on both sides of the aisle for keeping tax rates at their current level, at least for the time being.

“I don’t believe we ought to raise taxes on anyone during a fragile economic recovery,” said Cornyn. “And I think there’s increasing bipartisan support for that position.”

Congress will reconvene on Nov. 15, when the debate over the tax cuts is sure to dominate the congressional schedule.

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