Senate Dems tee up middle class tax fight

After a bruising week for Senate Democrats in which Republicans blocked progress on two bills, next week promises more partisan fighting, as the Senate is expected to consider the Democrats' tax plan.

The Middle Class Tax Cut Act, proposed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is a one-year extension of the Bush-tax rates on annual incomes of less than $250,000.

Reid’s plan, S. 3412, would also set a top rate of 20 percent for capital gains and dividends, and extend expansions of the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit.

ADVERTISEMENT
Senate Republicans blocked work on two Democratic bills this week, but they might allow consideration of the Democratic tax bill, particularly if doing so gives the GOP an opportunity to lobby for its own tax proposal. As of Friday, Senate Democrats had not indicated the process for taking up the bill, or whether some amendments might be allowed.

Republicans will certainly push for a vote on their own plan, the Tax Hike Prevention Act proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). That bill, S. 3413 would extend the Bush-tax rates for all income levels.

Democrats suggested this week that they would let all the current tax rates expire at the end of the year unless GOP lawmakers agree to just letting tax hikes hit the wealthiest Americans. Republicans argue that would hurt small-businesses owners.


Another amendment some Republicans are likely to insist on is Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) measure to end all aid to Pakistan. Paul said on the Senate floor that he’d force a vote on the matter next week. Paul is upset that Pakistan has imprisoned Dr. Shakil Afridi, who aided U.S. intelligence officers in the killing of Osama bin Laden, and said the United State should not be funding a country that does not act like a friend.

This week, Republicans blocked progress on two Democratic bills — the Disclose Act, which would have required disclosure of campaign donations exceeding $10,000; and the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would have eliminated a tax write-off for businesses moving their operations out of the country and incentivized companies moving jobs back to the United States.

Republicans argued that the two bills were political and a waste of time considering the high levels of unemployment and the looming "fiscal cliff."

The Senate will return Monday at 2 p.m. A vote on the judicial nomination of Michael Shipp to the district court of New Jersey was scheduled for 5:30 p.m.