By Alexander Bolton - 07/11/12 02:26 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday rejected a Republican request to vote on President Obama’s income tax plan amid defections within his caucus on tax policy.
Reid appeared exasperated by the Republican request to vote on extending the Bush-era tax rates when Democrats would prefer to focus this week on a small-business tax package estimated to create 1 million jobs.
Reid was responding to a request by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to vote on Obama’s tax plan, which would extend the Bush tax rates for families earning less than $250,000, alongside a Republican proposal to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax rates for one year.
“The Senate should make itself clear which policy it supports. This is our chance to do it,” said McConnell.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, accused Democrats of filibustering the president’s tax plan.
“They are filibustering their own bill. So what does that tell us? Here’s what it tells us. It tells us that the president’s tax increase plan is not just an economic disaster; it is a political loser,” Hatch said.
Senate Democratic leaders are worried about potential defections within their caucus on taxes.
At least seven Democratic senators have declined to rule out supporting a temporary extension of the Bush-era income tax rates.
Several Senate Democrats running for reelection and Democratic Senate candidates have balked at Obama’s proposal to extend income tax rates only for families earning below $250,000.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp have said the threshold should be $1 million. Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who is running for the Senate, prefers setting it at $500,000.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has also said she would not rule out extending all of the Bush tax rates temporarily.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told NJ Today that he disagrees with Obama’s plan to allow tax rates to increase for families earning over $250,000.
“I mean in New Jersey, if you’re a police sergeant and a schoolteacher husband and wife, $250,000 is not quite the level. So I’d like to raise the level as I’ve advocated for in the past,” he said. “But I think that after we raise the level, keeping it for that middle class universe is what’s important.”