Dems: GOP tax plan costs much more than ours

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The release, first issued Friday night, comes before the two parties are expected to spend much of the next two weeks debating tax policy, as both sides look to set up their message for the November elections.

Democrats, using analyses from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), now say that the Republican plan to essentially extend all current tax rates for a year would cost the Treasury an extra $155 billion in revenue.

Senate Democrats’ plan, which they are expected to push this week, would extend Bush-era tax rates only for income up to $250,000, and to raise the top rates on dividends and capital gains. The plan also would extend expansions of tax credits often used by lower- and middle-class families and, for the most part, matches up with tax proposals from President Obama.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the ranking Republican at Finance, had issued a release last week, also using JCT figures, that said there was only a $29 billion difference in the two plans.

Since that release, Democrats have signaled that they will drop a proposal to return the estate tax to less generous 2009 levels.

The JCT figures circulated by Democrats also take into account a GOP proposal to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax through 2013. Democrats have proposed patching the AMT through the end of this year

Those two changes account for almost all of the difference in the two estimates. Hatch’s release said that JCT did not score the 2013 AMT patch proposed by Republicans to offer a more “apples-to-apples” comparison.

Hatch said in his release that the $29 billion difference between the GOP and Democratic plans amounted to basically three days worth of government spending, and that lawmakers should extend current policies for a year to give some breathing room for tax reform negotiations. 

Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Hatch, also suggested on Monday that the Democrats' decision to ask JCT to consider the 2013 AMT patch was also misleading.

"An apples-to-apples comparison shows a $50 billion difference – that is a fact," Ferrier said in a statement.

But Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Hatch’s release was a “smokescreen” that disguised the GOP plan’s true deficit impact.

Republicans are expected to lobby to get a Senate vote for their proposal this week as well. Democrats dropped their estate tax plan last week, at least in part to try to maximize party support for their plan. 

This post was updated at 1:10 p.m.