Tax Cut Shenanigans

By Maya

Dec 2, 2010 9:30am

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports: Virtually everyone expects a bi-partisan deal before a looming tax hike hits all income-tax-paying Americans at the end of the month, but the talks are taking place against a backdrop of partisan meltdown and, as Treasury Secretary Geithner heads to the Hill for day two of negotiations, there are no tangible signs of progress. In fact, even those in charge of negotiating the deal are publicly sniping at each other. Case in point: the joint appearance of Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Dave Camp on Good Morning America today. Camp and Van Hollen are two of the six people trying to negotiating a deal (along with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, OMB Director Jack Lew and  Senators Max Baucus and Jon Kyl), but when interviewed by George Stephanopoulos, they retreated into partisan talking points that sounded like a replay of the campaign. “They want a permanent extension of tax cuts for the folks at the very top, which adds $700 billion [to the debt] and they don’t want to pay a dime for that,” said Van Hollen, who said extending the tax cuts for the wealthy would  amount to a “bonus” of an $100,000 for the average millionaire.  For his part, Camp said Republicans would insist on extending the tax cuts for everybody and that if they couldn’t work out a deal during this lame duck session of Congress – where Democrats still control the House – he would simply push the issue in January, when Republicans are in charge. “Frankly, if we don’t’ get this done, the first thing I’m going to do as Chairman of Ways & Means, is make sure we don’t’ have a tax hike for any American,” Camp said.     Meanwhile, Republicans are infuriated that outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is going forward with a vote today on a bill they say is simply unacceptable and counter to the deal they are trying to negotiate.  The Democratic bill would extend the tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and allow the rest of them to expire. House Democratic leaders have signaled they won’t allow a vote on a Republican measure to extend all the tax cuts. “I think it’s wrong,” said incoming House Speaker John Boehner told reporters late Wednesday. “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.’” The Democratic bill is likely to pass the House, but will be dead on arrival in the Senate, where all 42 Republicans, and at least a handful of Democrats, are pushing for an extension of all the tax cuts. Ultimately, the outlines of deal seem obvious:  a temporary extension of all the tax cuts coupled with an extension of unemployment benefits.  But the two sides will have to stop fighting long enough to make it happen.

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