Since before President Obama took office, Democrats have pledged to maintain the middle-class tax cuts that were enacted under President George W. Bush.
As recently as Wednesday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) vented his frustration to reporters about how Republicans were stopping those tax cuts from being extended because they wanted to extend tax breaks for the wealthy.
"The big issue is Republicans want to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage for providing big Bush tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans," he said.
On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that talks to extend the middle-class tax cuts were underway. He said tax breaks for the rich would not be extended because they would not stimulate the economy.
"Frankly, the upper-income, $200,000-to-$250,000 and above individual is less likely to make any change in his or her spending habits as a result [of extending tax cuts]," he said. "Making sure there are more dollars in the pockets of middle-income earners pretty much guarantees they're going to spend it on consumer goods that they need."
Congressional Democrats in both chambers have already begun talks about how they can extend the middle-class tax breaks in a political environment that is decidedly against increasing the deficit, but equally resistant to tax increases.