NRSC presses Dems on Bush tax cuts

The Senate Republicans' campaign arm on Monday pressured Democrats running in competitive races on their position on the expiring Bush tax cuts.

Senators are poised to decide whether to extend the cuts or let them expire before voters head to the polls in November — which has pushed the issue to the forefront of the midterm debate.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) drew contrast between Democrats running in battleground states with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who wants to act on the cuts in September when senators return for a brief work period after August recess. 

Included in the push is a website called dontraisemytaxes.com, Web ads and targeted releases. On Monday, the NRSC went after Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), who is running against Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), and Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) for backing an extension of all the cuts. 

A GOP official noted that each day this week, the committee will be highlighting a different issue area such as families, small businesses, married couples and the estate tax "that will be harmed by these tax hikes."

The official also said the committee will go after Reid and Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) along with candidates Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) for being "to the left of even members of their own party as taxpayers prepare to face the biggest tax hike in American history." All are running in close races against Republicans.

Republicans have hammered away at Democrats on the tax cuts since a potential extension has developed. With the economy still struggling to create jobs, Republicans argue that allowing them to expire would punish small-business owners and other key job creators.

The GOP has drew attention to some intra-party disagreement within the Democratic caucus in an attempt to portray them as a party that is incapable of crafting a coherent policy message to bring more economic stability.

The push comes as Democrats have used former President George W. Bush's economic agenda against the GOP in their midterm rhetoric.

The NRSC has already attacked Democratic candidates Robin Carnahan (Mo.) and Jack Conway (Ky.) for changing their positions on the cuts. Both previously made statements supporting the expiration some or all of the cuts. 

Last week, Carnahan said she now favors extending all of them, citing the continuing economic downturn. Conway previously said the "majority" of the cuts should expire but has recently said most of them should be extended due to the state of the economy.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have shown signs of disagreement over the controversial issue and have yet to put forth a concrete proposal. Some centrist senators want all the cuts extended, even those for individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000.

Others said all the cuts should be allowed to expire, and some have said cuts for the upper income brackets should expire while the others should be extended. 

Recent polling shows a narrow majority of the public wants the cuts extended for those not in the upper income brackets.

House Democrats have less of an appetite for extending the cuts for the wealthy — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected the idea last month.

Democrats have pushed back against the Republican narrative. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has gone after GOP candidates — including Sestak's opponent, former Rep. Pat Toomey — for wanting to extend the cuts for the wealthiest bracket, arguing their stance pits their support for deficit reduction. Party leaders have said extending all the cuts would be fiscally irresponsible at a time when the nation faces a large federal budget deficit.

Was originally post on The Hill's Blog Briefing Room