Senate leaders show little sign of agreement on taxes

Reid said the House could ensure that millions of Americans’ tax rates don’t increase at the end of the year when the Bush-era tax rates expire by passing the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which the Senate passed a few months ago.

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“It took four months for Republicans to realize that the path to avoid the fiscal cliff is right in front of them,” Reid said on the floor Thursday. “The House is holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage.”

Reid applauded some Republicans recently admitting that new revenues need to be on the table in deficit reduction talks, and cited Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) saying Wednesday that if Boehner brought the Middle Class Tax Cut Act to the floor it would pass in the House.

“Now Republicans are starting to come around to what we’ve been saying all along,” Reid said. “Let’s not raise tax cuts on millions of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year.”

Democrats want tax rates to rise on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said raising personal income taxes on any Americans would damage job growth by harming small-business owners.

“If more revenue is the price that Democrats want to exact, then we should at least agree to do it in a way that doesn’t cost jobs,” McConnell said. “The smarter way is by capping deductions.”

McConnell said he hopes President Obama presents a deficit-reduction plan that could pass both chambers of Congress. He said Obama should stop using his campaign theme of attacking the rich and lead in the fiscal talks.

“Whacking the rich works politically but the election is over and it’s time to lead,” McConnell said.

Lawmakers are working to avoid the “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year, when the Bush-era tax rates expire and sequestration cuts take effect.