Dems, GOP spar from afar on small business tax relief

Senate Democrats instead are pushing a plan that would give tax relief to smaller companies that hire new employees or giving existing workers higher wages.

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“The idea of just cutting taxes on every business, whether they create a job or not, whether they're a productive business or not, whether they're a -- you know, a sports figure or a  financial firm or anything else makes no sense to us,” Schumer said.

Democrats are also planning a vote this month on legislation modeled after President Obama’s Buffett Rule, which states that those making more than $1 million a year should not pay a lower share of their wages in taxes than middle-class families.

“The Republican panacea to everything is just reduce taxes on the highest-income people,” Schumer, who helps craft Democratic messaging, told reporters on a conference call.

For his part, Cantor, who attended a White House signing ceremony for the JOBS Act, said he had not had a chance to discuss his proposal with Obama. But he did say after the bill signing that the GOP plan would place less restrictions on small businesses

“If we believe in free markets, if we believe that small businesses really are the growth engine, we ought to just empower them by allowing them to keep more of their money so that they can retain and hire more workers,” Cantor told reporters.

The Virginia Republican also appeared to needle Senate Democrats over their plan, after he and other top Republicans have said for months that the Senate is bottling up House-passed bills that they say would help the economy.

“I'm glad that the Senate is actually talking about finally trying to do something for small-business people,” Cantor said. “We know that that's the key to get the economy going again.”

The House is expected to vote on the 20 percent small business tax cut, which would only be in place for 2012, shortly after lawmakers return to Washington in mid-April.

By and large, many Republicans say they prefer more permanent tax policy, and would like to avoid temporary measures.

The House GOP budget, passed last week, also calls for a comprehensive reform of the tax code. But Cantor has said that the 20 percent tax cut could help the economy while policymakers work toward that goal.