Republicans aren't likely to win a legislative battle to extend all of former President George W. Bush's tax cuts, a House conservative leader conceded Monday.
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), acknowledged that the the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year, won't be extended in their entirety, as GOP leaders have called for.
"No, I don't see it," Price said on CNBC when asked if there was any chance that all of the Bush tax cuts could be extended.
Republicans in the House and Senate, including members like Price, have pushed the Democrats in control of the House and Senate on taxes, warning voters during the summer campaign season that Democrats would raise taxes.
President Obama and congressional Democrats have said they wish to extend all of the Bush tax cuts with the exception of the breaks for households earning over $250,000 a year and individuals earning over $200,000 per year. Democrats would let those high-end tax cuts expire, a move that Republicans have attacked, reasoning that they would harm small-business owners who treat their company's income as their own.
The expiring tax cuts are setting up a pitched political battle over the tax rates this fall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that "it would be [her] hope" to hold a vote on the tax cuts — which would presumably let high-income tax rates rise — before Election Day. But holding that vote before what's expected to be a tough election for Democrats could put endangered incumbents and other centrist Democrats in a tough position on the issue of taxes.
Republicans are finding themselves in a bit of a tough situation of their own over the taxes, too, facing questions over how to pay for the hole in the budget that would be created by extended cuts. Extending all the tax cuts may create a deficit, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) acknowledged on Monday, but Republicans have argued that raising taxes during a recession is an untenable position.
Price said that Democrats in the House and Senate were deliberately planning to punt taxes, as well as other tough issues like "card-check" legislation and an energy and climate bill, until the lame-duck session between Election Day and early January, when new members are sworn in.
"In fact, that's their ploy right now. What Harry Reid has said and what the Speaker said is that they're going to have a lame-duck session," Price said. "And it's during that lame-duck session — between the election and Jan. 3, when the new Congress is sworn in, hopefully a Republican Congress — they're going to pass all of this craziness. They're going to increase taxes on virtually every single American, they're going to try to pass their national energy tax, and they're going to do some favors for unions — 'card-check,' facilitating union formation all across this country."