Key Dem: Cost of extending most tax cuts should be offset

Democrats will look to offset the budget effects of extending most of the Bush-era tax cuts, a top House Democrat said Tuesday.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a key ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) who serves as chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he thinks lawmakers would find a way to fund the extension of most tax cuts, which they favor.

"Clearly the middle-class tax cuts should be extended. I think you should pay for them," Miller said during an appearance on MSNBC. "How? We'll have to figure that out, but I think that that's very important."

The tax cuts passed during the administration of President George W. Bush are set to expire at the end of the year. President Obama and congressional Democrats have said they wish to extend the breaks for households earning less than $250,000 per year and for individuals making under $200,000 per year.

Republicans have also pushed for extending the tax cuts, but in their entirety. GOP leaders have been skittish to explain how — or whether — the effect on the deficits caused by the extended tax cuts should be offset.

"Here in Washington, D.C., they — they talk about tax cuts the same way they talk about spending increases, as though the government owned all of the money. They say, 'Are they paid for?' " House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said over the weekend on that very matter. "Well, I think — I think deciding on a government spending increase is very different on whether or not we allow the American people to keep more of their hard-earned tax dollars."

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has conceded that extending the tax cuts could "dig the hole deeper," but has maintained — like other Republicans — that extending the breaks were in the best interests of the U.S. economy.

Miller said extending the cuts was critical — but only for the middle class.

"It's the absence of the middle-class consumer, homebuyer, that is causing the recession that we see today," he argued. "Those people have lost trillions of dollars in wealth because of the financial scandals on Wall Street. And we've got to assist them."