Sen. Warner: Lack of pre-election tax cut deal an 'embarrassment'

Centrist Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) ripped leaders in both political parties Wednesday for failing to reach a compromise on the expiring Bush tax cuts before the midterm elections. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) played an "inexcusable" game of "political chicken" with the cuts instead of coming up with a serious plan to extend them, Warner said, especially those for the middle class. 

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"Candidly, it was an embarrassment, and I urged both political leaders — I urged both Sen. McConnell and Sen. Reid — to kind of reach that compromise before we broke," Warner said on Fox Business Network. "Both sides wanted to use it instead for political one-upmanship during the campaign."

Warner's comments underscore the frustration of some lawmakers that Congress could not arrive at a solution on the cuts, which are slated to expire Jan. 1, before the lame-duck session that began this week.

Members on both sides of the aisle have sparred over the terms of an extension, with Republican leaders demanding a permanent renewal for all the cuts and Democratic leaders urging that the cuts stay in place only for the middle class.

But key lawmakers have indicated this week that a compromise is near that would likely extend all the cuts on a temporary basis. 

Warner has proposed his own solution, which would end the cuts for the highest-income earners in favor of a series of tax breaks for businesses. The Virginia senator did not face reelection in 2010.

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