Democrats in Congress did not hold a vote on whether or not to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts because they were "too scared," Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said this weekend.

The governor and former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman said that his party should have seized on public support for their plan: to let the cuts expire for upper-income earners but extend them for the middle-class.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I think we were too scared," he said on Bloomberg's "Political Capital" program that airs throughout the weekend. "And I think we also downgrade the public's ability to make decisions based on somewhat intricate stuff."

What to do with the Bush tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, has become the next major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats. But Democrats have not been able to agree on a plan on the politically sensitive issue before Congress left for recess ahead of the November mid-term elections.

Many centrist Democrats in the House and the Senate have argued that tax cuts for individuals making over $200,000 and families making $250,000 should be extended temporarily. Republicans want all of the tax cuts either temporarily or permanently extended.

Thirty-nine House Democrats, mostly centrist Blue Dogs and members in danger of losing their seats in the mid-term elections, broke with their party and voted against adjournment without addressing the tax cuts.

Retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) quipped this week that the result was the norm for his party. Asked why his caucus could not agree on a plan, he said “Because we’re Democrats.’’

The term-limited Rendell said that Democrats needed to approve the plan endorsed by President Obama.

"I think Republican polls showed it. Absolutely it was in favor of eliminating, letting the Bush tax cuts on people who earn more than $250,000 expire, and at the same time holding those tax cuts in place for the middle class, maybe not for the next ten years, but for until the economy recovers," he said. "I think people wanted that and I think our guys were too afraid of the rhetoric and they assume that people will say, oh, you raised taxes. Well, sure we raised taxes, but we didn't raise taxes on you, ma'am. In fact, the Obama stimulus plan cut your taxes. We raised taxes on people who can afford to pay taxes."