ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
Republican leaders in Congress today ripped House Democrats for holding a politically-charged vote Thursday on extending the Bush tax cuts for middle-class Americans but letting them expire for the wealthy at year’s end.
“I think it’s wrong,” said House Speaker-to be John Boehner. “It does undercut the conversations we had just yesterday to continue to play political games. The American people said on election day, ‘Stop the games. Stop the spending. Stop the looming tax hikes.’”
That argument was echoed by the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell.
“Regardless of what the majority tries to force House Republicans to do, it’s not going to go anywhere,” McConnell said. “We are going to extend the current tax rates. We’re not going to raise taxes on anybody. The only thing we’re discussing now is just how long that extension will be.”
McConnell and Boehner were speaking at a brief press conference following a meeting this evening with Republican governors-elect on Capitol Hill.
“It is a great day today in DC because what you see is a coalition of governors who have gotten together with the leaders in DC and we are now going to start conversations on why we don’t need mandated healthcare and what we as states can do as solutions instead,” said South Carolina Governor-elect Nikki Haley. “We are not just going to say, ‘no,’ but we are actually going to tell our federal leaders what we can do instead, so that they can go back and fight for why states should have more rights than what they have right now.”
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire on December 31 unless Congress extends them. Republicans want a permanent extension of all the tax cuts while Democrats want to extend the cuts only for individuals making under $200,000 a year and couples making under $250,000 a year. One option seen as an increasingly likely outcome is both parties agreeing on a temporary three-year extension of all the cuts in exchange for key Democratic priorities like an unemployment insurance extension and other possible measures.
Today on Capitol Hill representatives from the Obama administration and Congress started a series of meetings to resolve the issue.
The White House-Congress tax meetings kicked off this morning with a summit on Capitol Hill that lasted over an hour and a half but left little clues about how both parties intend to resolve the issue of the expiring Bush tax cuts.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Office of Management & Budget director Jack Lew met with Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Chris Van Hollen for the Democrats and Sen. Jon Kyl and Rep. Dave Camp for the Republicans in the morning for over an hour and a half and then again well into the evening. Geithner said the morning meeting had been “a very civil, constructive discussion,” but declined to characterize the talks any further.