Taxes: battle of the shoulds, musts, nots

September 13, 2010

Political maneuvering is in full bloom as positions are being staked out in the battle over tax cuts to the wealthy and for the hearts and minds of the Middle Class ahead of the November election.

President Barack Obama on Friday had his say: Congress should pass what everyone agrees on — extend Bush-era Middle Class tax relief for families earning up to $250,000.

USA/For higher incomes, Obama said the country can’t afford extending tax cuts, but he is willing to talk about it . “We can have a further conversation about how they want to spend an additional $700 billion to give an average of $100,000 to millionaires. That I think is a bad idea.” 

Obama didn’t slam the door in anyone’s face. In fact, if someone was looking for grains of compromise he appeared to leave the door slightly ajar.

House Republican leader John Boehner, who could be Speaker if his party wrestles control from Democrats on Nov. 2, said on Sunday that he would be open to only the Middle Class extension if that was the only piece that would get through, but in principle all the expiring tax relief should be extended.

“If the only option I have is to vote for those at 250 and below, of course I’m going to do that,” Boehner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.”

Then there’s Eric Cantor. The House Republican Whip is second on the leader ladder and issued a statement on Monday that didn’t exactly back Boehner (could there be a fight for Speaker brewing?)

“I will do everything in my power to stop President Obama and Speaker Pelosi from raising taxes on working families, small business people, and investors,” Cantor said. Doesn’t sound like he’s leaving much wiggle room.

Boehner’s way could reduce the ammunition from Democrats trying to portray Republicans as obstructing tax relief to the Middle Class. Cantor’s way speaks more strongly to the conservative Republican base.

Somebody has to blink somewhere. If they don’t do anything, something is going to happen that nobody wants — everyone gets a tax increase.

Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking (Woman dressed as Statue of Liberty waving sign at drivers in Colorado, Feb. 4, 2009)

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