By Jay Heflin - 07/23/10 04:43 PM EDT
In a speech on the economy and jobs, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Friday reiterated his party’s call to extend the Bush middle-class tax cuts and deemed Republicans’ call to extend breaks for the wealthy a “mistake [that] would be putting ourselves even deeper into debt.”
“Republicans claim that we can’t afford $34 billion for the unemployed, but then, in the same breath, they demand $676 billion in debt-finance tax cuts for the wealthy,” he said.
Conservative lawmakers such as Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have recently claimed that extending tax cuts for the wealthy should not be paid for. Under pay-as-you-go rules, an extension of these tax breaks would have to be offset.
The Tax Relief Coalition earlier Friday blasted the PAYGO rule in the context of extending tax cuts for the wealthy.
“Unyielding adherence to paygo virtually ensures that every discussion of tax policy becomes mired in the rhetoric of class warfare,” it stated in a letter sent to Congress.
Tax-writers in both chambers are grappling with how to handle extending the Bush tax cuts. Democratic leaders have dug in on their position that only the middle-class tax breaks should be extended, while a growing number of their caucus members believe that all of the breaks should be maintained until the economy gets stronger and the unemployment rate returns to a more acceptable level.
In his speech Friday, Hoyer noted that the Bush tax cuts, which were enacted within a few months of former President George W. Bush taking office, did not create many jobs compared to his predecessor.
“Over eight years of President Bush, our economy added just 1 million private-sector jobs — versus 21 million under President Clinton,” Hoyer said. “And it was President Bush who ran $2.13 trillion in deficits and wiped out the biggest surplus in American history.”