Vulnerable Democrats ask Congress, Obama to extend Bush tax cuts

Two House Democrats in tough reelection races are asking Congress and President Barack Obama to extend the Bush administration tax cuts.

Reps. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) and Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) asked members in a “Dear Colleague” letter Thursday to support extending the tax cuts, which passed in 2001 and 2003 and are set to expire this year, for at least another two years. Specifically, Bright and McMahon are asking lawmakers to sign a letter to Obama asking him to include the tax cuts in his budget plans for 2010.

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“Allowing these tax rates to expire during this recession runs the risk of curtailing economic expansion just when it begins to pick up and could lead to a ‘double dip’ recession,” says the letter to Obama.

In the letter to the president, the members say the Bush tax cuts should not be allowed to expire. That would put them in opposition to Obama’s stated plan of letting some of the tax cuts meant for the wealthy to expire while keeping breaks in place for the poor and middle class, consistent with his campaign pledge of not raising taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Bright and McMahon’s letter is likely to earn backing from Republican-leaning business associations. For example, in releasing the letter to reporters, Bright’s office included a statement from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) praising the congressman.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy, generating seven out of ten new jobs and leading our economy out of past recessions. The NFIB thanks Rep. Bright for standing up for small-business owners, our nation's job creators,” said Brad Close, the trade group’s vice president of federal public policy.

Bright is considered a prime target for a Republican takeover. Elected in 2008, the freshman Democrat saw 63 percent of his district vote for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the presidential race.

McMahon’s Staten Island district has traditionally leaned Republican as well. McMahon is another freshman Democrat who saw his district go for McCain last election, though by a smaller margin of 51 percent.