Yesterday the House put themselves on the record on the Bush tax cuts, ensuring that the issue will extend into the lame duck session and that the election, in large part, will determine the course of action.
The House approved a one-year extension of all the Bush tax cut rates, rejecting a Democratic bill already passed by the Senate that extended only the tax rates on the first $250,000 of income. The partisan breakdown is worth looking at. On the Democratic amendment to extend just the first $250,000, no Republicans broke ranks, while 19 Democrats voted against it. The final vote was 170-257. The Democratic names who crossed the aisle should be familiar to you:
Altmire, Barrow, Boren, Chandler, Cooper, Costa, Cuellar, Donnelly, Kissell, Matheson, McIntyre, McNerney, Owens, Peterson, Ross, Schrader, Shuler, Thompson, Walz
Let me particularly highlight Mike Thompson, from a deep-blue district on the northern California coast, and Jim Costa, who represents one of the poorest districts in America, in California’s Central Valley. The slavishness toward millionaires is pretty revolting.
A similar group of 19 voted with Republicans to extend all the Bush tax cuts for one year. That vote was 256-171. Only Tim Johnson voted against it among Republicans. Here were the Democratic defectors:
Barrow, Bishop, Boren, Boswell, Chandler, Connolly, Costa, Critz, Cuellar, Donnelly, Kissell, Loebsack, Matheson, McIntyre, McNerney, Owens, Peterson, Ross, Walz
Doing some sorting, there’s a small group of members of the House who voted against the tax relief across the board, both for an extension of the first $250,000 of income and a full one-year extension. Those are the people on the first list who didn’t appear on the second list, as well as Republican Tim Johnson. That list is:
Tim Johnson, Altmire, Cooper, Schrader, Shuler, Thompson
And these are the only true fiscal conservatives. By their votes, they want the Bush tax cuts to expire totally, voting against any attempt at extension. At least they’re honest about it.
But the tax cut bill put forward by Republicans had “other purposes,” per the Congressional euphemism. It also set up a process to radically alter the tax code within one year, with fast-tracking through the Senate without a filibuster included. And, it also would raise taxes on about 25 million Americans by reducing some tax credits, like the child tax credit, the tuition tax credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
In other tax news, the Senate Finance Committee will mark up a $152 billion “tax extenders” package today which includes several tax breaks for businesses and even that principal reduction tax exclusion issue. But a wind energy tax credit was removed, stalled due to Presidential politics (Romney opposes the extension). And it’s far from clear whether the House would act on a tax extenders bill, even if it got through the Senate. The tax extenders bill would patch the alternative minimum tax, an annual ritual in Washington, at a cost of $92 billion (most of the package, actually). this was seen as a key part of the fiscal cliff negotiations in the lame duck.
The larger point is that the lame duck will be largely determined by the course of the election. Both the House and Senate are on the record on their respective positions on the Bush tax cuts. The winner of the Presidency will go a long way toward determining who will prevail.