GOP not embracing new proposals

Top-ranking House Republicans call the new White House economic proposals a last-ditch effort to pull a fast one on dissatisfied voters before the midterm elections.

House GOP Conference Secretary John Carter (Texas) compared the president’s plan to inject $50 billion in infrastructure projects and extend only selected Bush-era tax cuts to a carjacker giving away cab fare.

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“Offering $200 billion in narrowly targeted business tax cuts and new deficit spending while yoking taxpayers with a $3.8 trillion January tax hike is like a carjacker offering taxi fare before he rides off in your car,” Carter said in a statement Tuesday.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also weighed in: “The White House is missing the big picture. None of its plans address the two big problems that are hurting our economy: excessive government spending and the uncertainty that their policies — especially the massive tax hike they have planned for Jan. 1 — is creating for small businesses.”

Democrats counter that GOP opposition to extending business tax cuts they have previously supported reveals Republicans are playing politics before the midterm elections. Political analysts maintain Democrats could use Republican votes on popular tax breaks in campaign ads this fall.

Some in the business community, meanwhile, are holding back their support until they review the details of Obama’s proposals.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said Obama’s new economic plan reveals the administration is worried about the elections.

Roskam echoed Carter’s sentiments, adding that many of his colleagues would support extending research and development credits and the expenses portion of Obama’s proposal if it didn’t raise taxes elsewhere as an offset.

“It’s a little bit of, ‘Look at the shiny object over here,’” Roskam said in a phone interview. “You can sense the growing pressure on their side.”

The Illinois lawmaker pointed to Peter Orszag’s op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday in which the former Office of Management and Budget director argued for extending the Bush tax cuts for two years and them ending them altogether.

Orszag wrote that extending all the cuts would help the struggling jobs market, which he dubs a “painful jobs deficit,” and that letting all of them expire in two years would help bring down the federal budget deficit.

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For months, Republicans have pressed Democrats and the Obama administration to extend all of the tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire on Dec. 31.
 
Pressed by reporters on Orszag’s position, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday reiterated the administration’s position against extending major portions of the Bush tax cuts.

“Again our viewpoint on this is that, that we should and must pass legislation that extends the tax cuts for middle-class families, but we cannot afford, in this environment to — in our budgetary and fiscal environment — to extend the tax cuts for those that make more than $250,000 a year,” Gibbs said.

Republicans argue such a policy would penalize small firms because many small businesses file taxes as individuals.

It does not appear that there are enough votes in the House and Senate to pass Obama’s plan of raising taxes on families who earn more than $250,000 annually.

There has been speculation that congressional Democrats might raise that figure to $1 million. At his briefing on Tuesday, Gibbs said, “Roughly, for a millionaire, [extending the Bush tax cuts is a] $100,000 tax cut. I don’t think the president believes that we are a ‘$100,000 tax cut from a millionaire’ away from an economy that works for families that are making $40,000 a year.”

The Senate Banking Committee announced Tuesday it will hold a Sept. 21 hearing on Obama’s infrastructure plan.

In a release, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said, “A significant investment in our ailing national infrastructure will create jobs, boost long-term economic growth and improve safety.”