House advances GOP tax bill

The Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act, H.R. 8, would maintain all current tax levels for another year, while Democrats are proposing legislation that would allow a tax increase for individual income above$200,000, and family income above $250,000. Democrats will offer an amendment to that effect later in the day, it is expected to fail due to GOP opposition.

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Republicans spent the debate arguing that Democrats agreed to maintain lower rates for all Americans in 2010, when Democrats controlled the entire federal government, and that they seem to have changed their mind for political reasons. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) charged President Obama with insisting on raising taxes for high-income earners in order to give a boost to his re-election campaign.

"I have to have something to run on, so I'm going to pit one group of Americans against another group of Americans, because God knows I can't run on my record," Gowdy said as he mocked Obama's purported political strategy. "So let's try the politics of bringing people down, and perpetrating this myth that somehow pulling other people down makes me taller."

Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said allowing rates to rise on higher income levels would hurt small business owners who are best suited to create jobs, and also punish people needlessly for acquiring wealth.

"My friends on the left would punish people who work all their lives, and come up with wealth to pass on to the next generation," Scott said.

Republicans have said the Democratic demand for higher taxes on upper incomes is threatening to block any extension of current tax rates this year. But during the debate, Democrats argued the opposite — that the GOP demand to keep all tax levels the same is jeopardizing lower tax rates.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said it is Republicans who are blocking progress on this issue, and also blamed them for brinksmanship in last year's debt ceiling agreement.

"The duplicity is on the other side of the aisle, which always is trying to bring this body and this country to the precipice," DeLauro said.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) tried to appeal to fairness, and said Democrats are only asking wealthy taxpayers to pay "their fair share." She also said the GOP argument that keeping taxes low at all levels will not help create jobs, and said this belief is based on the Republican "trickle down" theory that has been shown not to work.

"Many on the other side of the aisle subscribe to this idea, and believe that by providing for the powerful interests first, success would trickle down onto the middle class," she said. "What we now know is the theory simple is not true."

Just before the vote on the rule, Republicans amended it so that when the House approves the tax bill, and passes separate legislation outlining tax reform in 2013, both bills will be combined into a single piece of legislation that would be sent to the Senate.

That amendment also had to be voted on, and it was approved in another mostly party-line 238-186 vote.

The tax reform bill, H.R. 6169, calls for a significant simplification of the tax code and the elimination of many special interest tax breaks. The House is expected to consider that bill on Thursday.