In perhaps one of their last acts in the U.S. House, Democrats Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes disagree over the tax cut extension compromise between the White House and congressional Republicans.
Republicans say the Bush era tax cuts, which expire at the end of the month, should be extended for all Americans. Democrats, citing the impact on the deficit, argue they should not be extended for the richest Americans — individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000.
But the GOP insists it needs to be all or nothing — either everyone gets the tax breaks or no one gets them. As well, Republicans last week held up extending unemployment benefits for out of work Americans, something else the Democrats want.
A compromise would extend the tax cuts for all for two years, extend unemployment benefits, and reduce payroll taxes next year.
Hodes, the outgoing congressman from New Hampshire 2nd District, will support the compromise.
“I have been as outspoken as anyone about opposing the tax cuts for the wealthy. I have also been clear and forceful about the need for long term deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility. But it is clear that with Republican leaders insisting on protecting these cuts, and since they are able to stop everything else in its tracks, we must have a compromise,” he said in an emailed statement.
“Our nation’s growing deficit requires us to make difficult choices in order to bring our country’s fiscal house in order. But we must give help to the 2 million unemployed Americans who are about to lose assistance. We must give tax cuts to the middle class and small businesses to help them and to help get our economy moving. We must create jobs. This deal achieves these vital goals, saving typical middle class families thousands of dollars in taxes and creating over a million jobs according to top economists. We should now come together and pass it.”
Shea-Porter, who lost her bid for re-election in the 1st Congressional District, signed a letter with 53 other House Democrats opposing the compromise, calling it “fiscally irresponsible” and “grossly unfair” and noting that it added $900 billion to the national deficit.
“What’s stunning to me is the way that people who claimed to care about the debt have pushed to provide this tax cut for millionaires, all the time knowing that every cent of this $900 billion would be borrowed,” said Shea-Porter. “Politicians beat their chests and wailed during campaign season about the debt, all the while planning to borrow the money and to stick the middle class with the bill.”
On the Senate side, retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg is leaning toward supporting the compromise, according to an aide.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen hasn’t made up her mind. She quoted in the Concord Monitor as saying: “I think it’s irresponsible to extend the debt by tens of billions of dollars for tax cuts for millionaires that will have a minimal benefit to the economy. However, the middle-class tax cuts are critical and we need to get them done.”