Leading House Democrat: Tax Bill Won’t Extend Cuts for ‘Very Top’

Nov 23, 2010 1:56pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Even as the White House mulls a compromise that would temporarily extend all of the expiring Bush tax cuts, leading Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing back, urging President Obama to keep his pledge to allow tax cuts for higher-income Americans to expire. On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who holds the leadership post of assistant to the House speaker for policy, told us the tax bill Democrats bring to the House floor next month “will not include tax breaks for the folks at the very top.” “I’m going to vote in favor of the bill that we’re gonna have in front of the House … to make sure that we provide middle-class tax relief,” said Van Hollen, D-Md. “It will not include tax breaks for the folks at the very top.” Van Hollen said that Democrats – who maintain control of the House through the end of the year, including during the lame-duck session where the expiring tax cuts will be considered – continue to back the president’s commitment to allow tax cuts for couples making more than $250,000 a year to come to an end. “I think the position of the great majority in the House of Representatives is the position the president took going into the election,” he said. “We need to make sure, No. 1, that the middle class has tax relief — that 98 percent of the American people continue to have that tax relief, we don’t want to see their taxes going up.” “At the same time, we don’t want to add $700 billion to our deficit by providing tax breaks for the folks at the very top, when we know, No. 1, that that does not contributed to job creation — in fact, we know the end of that movie. And No. 2, the notion that these are somehow the small businesses has been shown to be untrue…” “So let’s get the deficit under control,” Van Hollen added. “We’re gonna have a vote on that in the House when we get back. We’ll have to see what the Senate does after that.” Van Hollen, the outgoing chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also conceded that his pre-election (and even Election Day) predictions that Democrats would hold on to the House turned out to be inaccurate. “The pundits were clearly right about this, we were clearly wrong,” he said. “You know, I’ve drawn to the inside [straight] before when playing poker, and we hoped, obviously, that there would be some scenario where that would happen.” He said he remained optimistic even after the voting began. “You always hold out hope,” he said. “We obviously hoped for the best. We did our whole cycle planning for the worst. I mean, we really did plan, and this is a case where even a lot of preparation was not enough to prevent a huge tidal wave from knocking out a lot of our members.” “I should say that we take some consolation at the DCCC that our members and candidates have said that we did everything we possibly could do to help them, and in fact some independent analysts have said that it actually could have been worse. As bad as it was, it could, it could have been worse but for some of the steps that we took.” Though Republicans picked up a net of at least 62 House seats, Van Hollen said he does think Democrats can win back the majority in 2012. “That’s certainly doable,” he said. “I’m not making any grand statements at this particular time. It’s gonna depend a lot, obviously, on whether or not we’re successful at working with the president to put more people back to work and get the economy moving again. Anytime you have as many people out of work as we have today, that’s tough. And understandably so.” Watch the full interview with Rep. Chris Van Hollen – plus some predictions on who’s going to win “Dancing with the Stars” — HERE. We also chatted with Yahoo News’ Jane Sasseen to review the latest ABC News/Yahoo News poll, which shows that Republicans are cheering the prospect of Washington gridlock in almost equal numbers to those who say it’s a bad thing.

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