Sen. Kaufman: GOP waging ‘holy jihad’ to extend tax cuts

Republicans are fighting to extend tax cuts for high earners with the intensity of a “holy jihad,” a Democratic senator charged Monday.

Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) said he didn’t see any room for compromise with Republicans on the extension of income tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year, blaming the GOP for being unflinching on tax rates.

“We talk about bending — it’s incredible. There’s no bending! Pick up your morning Washington Post and find out what Republicans are willing to bend on,” Kaufman said during an appearance on CNBC. “This is like a holy jihad to keep the tax cuts going.”

At issue are the tax cuts passed early in the presidency of George W. Bush, which will revert to their rates preceding the tax cuts, unless Congress acts. Democrats, led by President Obama, want to extend all the breaks except for households earning more than $250,000 per year and individuals earning over $200,000 per year.

Republicans have pushed for a permanent extension of the current tax rates, or, barring that, at least a two-year freeze on all tax rates.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), in a separate interview on CNBC on Monday morning, said that he saw a two-year extension in current rates as the most likely outcome of the tax debate.

“I think we’re going to end up with two years of tax policy being exactly like it is today,” Corker said. “I think that’s a good thing.”

The tax debate has taken center stage in Washington with six weeks left to go before the election, and both parties believe the issue works to their advantage.

Obama himself has shown little willingness to compromise on the taxes, though some Democratic leaders in Congress haven’t ruled out the two-year extension, the kind of compromise that would kick the issue down the road for lawmakers, and possibly shield vulnerable Democratic incumbents on the tax issue.

Kaufman said, though, that he hasn’t heard any interest from either party in compromising, setting up the possibility that the tax debate could be kicked back beyond the elections and into a lame-duck session of Congress.

“I don’t hear any compromise coming out of anybody,” he said.

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