Using comments by former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonRepublican spin on Biden is off the mark Bill Clinton shares video update after release from hospital Biden, Democrats risk everything unless they follow the Clinton pivot (they won't) MORE as a political gift, Republican leaders stepped up their calls for at least a one-year extension of the George W. Bush-era tax rates.
One by one, senior congressional Republicans stepped before the cameras on Wednesday morning to trumpet Clinton’s momentary support for extending the full slate of current tax rates, in contrast to President Obama’s push to keep income rates in place only for the middle class.
“Extending all the current tax rates for at least a year is really important if we’re going to help job creators and give them more confidence to put Americans back to work,” House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (R-Ohio) said after a closed-door conference meeting. “Even Bill Clinton came out for it — before he was against it.”
Clinton, in an interview on CNBC, said he had “no problem” with extending all of the tax cuts temporarily to avoid the year-end “fiscal cliff” that economists warn could slow the economy or even cause a recession. A spokesman for the former president later clarified that he “does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again.”
Yet for Obama’s election-year message, the damage might already have been done. Republicans jumped on the comments immediately and made Clinton’s remarks the focus of their morning press briefing. The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (Ky.), made a rare walk across the Capitol to join House Republicans and echo their message.
He noted that the economic growth rate is lower than it was in late 2010, when Obama agreed to a deal that extended the Bush tax rates, including those for the wealthy, for two years.
The House GOP conference chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), added: "Obviously, President Bill Clinton gets it. He knows you should not be raising taxes on anybody."
BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE and other Republicans also cited comments by Larry Summers, a former top Obama economic adviser who was quoted by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday as supporting a short-term extension.
Republicans want the current rates extended for at least as long as it takes Congress to agree to a broad overhaul of the tax code.