Pence promises full-fledged GOP campaign to keep Bush tax cuts

Republicans Saturday promised a full-fledged campaign to make permanent a suite of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and accused President Obama and other Democratic leaders of not taking steps yet to prevent their sunset.

As part of a broader attack on Obama’s economic agenda, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana accused Democrats in the weekly GOP radio address of wanting to embrace an unprecedented tax hike.


”After 18 months of runaway spending, bailouts and takeovers, Washington Democrats are poised to allow the largest tax increase in American history to take effect next year,” said Pence, the third-highest-ranking House Republican. “The American people know we can’t tax and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy.”

Pence promised that “House Republicans will oppose this tax increase with everything we’ve got.”

He is referring to tax cuts established in 2001 under the George W. Bush administration and GOP congressional rule that are set to expire at the end of the year. Obama and Democratic leaders have long said they intend to extend tax cuts affecting middle-class taxpayers who individually make less than $200,000 annually or couples who make less than $250,000.

Democrats have been looking, though, to delay extending tax cuts for wealthier individuals and couples.

Some Democrats are now considering a plan to delay tax hikes on the wealthy for two years because the economic recovery is slow and they fear getting hurt in November’s election.

But in a speech Friday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) reiterated his party’s call to extend the middle-class tax cuts and deemed GOP calls to extend breaks for the wealthy a “mistake [that] would be putting ourselves even deeper into debt.”

Hoyer argued that the tax cuts — which were enacted within a few months after Bush took office — did not create as many jobs as his predecessor, President Clinton.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week said extending the tax cuts could provide an economic boost. “In the short term, I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy,” Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday. “There are many ways to do that. This is one way.”

Pence also more generally went after the Obama economic agenda.

“The economic policies of this administration have failed,” he said. 

He said last year’s economic stimulus plan has yet to lower a steadily high national unemployment rate of about 10 percent.

No Republicans in the House and only three in the Senate voted for Obama’s stimulus plan. One of those three Senate Republicans — Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter — subsequently switched parties and became a Democrat.

Pence also notes House GOP opposition to Democratic-led healthcare reform and an economy-wide climate change plan this Congress, which Republicans have dubbed a “national energy tax.”