By Alexander Bolton - 09/14/10 11:22 PM EDT
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), an outspoken budget hawk who is not afraid to buck his party, is leaning against voting for an extension of tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush.
“My gut is probably no,” Voinovich told The Hill. “I think I would probably not vote, period, for it.”
Voinovich said Congress needs to tackle tax reform and extending the Bush tax cuts for another two years would only “kick the can down the road.”
My feeling at this stage of the game is we need to do tax reform,” Voinovich said.
President Obama has called on Congress to extend tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 and families with incomes below $250,000. Obama would end tax cuts for people with higher incomes.
Democrats are divided over Obama’s proposal, and it is far from clear what will emerge from the Senate.
Republicans have argued that all of the tax cuts should be extended, though House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) this week said he’d vote to only extend the middle-class tax cuts if that were his only option.
Voinovich, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year, said his mind is not yet made up.
“There are many, many economists who say not extending them might impact the economy,” he said. “On the other hand, my gut tells me that we have come to a situation that we do tax reform.”
Other centrist Senate Republicans have taken a strong stance against raising taxes for any Americans while the economy is still recovering from the 2008 financial collapse.
“I’m opposed to increasing taxes in the middle of a two-year recession,” said Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican from Massachusetts, on Tuesday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has called for a two-year extension of all of the Bush-era tax cuts.
“I think that it would be mistake to raise taxes at a time when our economy is so weak and unemployment is so high so what I would like to see an extension of all the tax cuts, all the tax relief in order to prevent tax hikes at the very worst time for our economy,” she told reporters.
“I hope we could agree to a two-year extension of the current law,” she said, citing the tax cuts that passed in 2001 and 2003.
Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would raise more than $3 trillion in government revenue over the next ten years. Allowing the rates to go up for individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000 would raise an estimated $700 billion over the next decade.