I hate it when news reports give the impression that something is totally different than it really is… Which is why when I checked email yesterday, I was overwhelmed by the number of folks that seemed to think that Congress passed a law extending tax cuts for the middle class. That didn’t happen.
Here’s what really happened: the Senate (and only the Senate) passed a plan to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts for the middle class. But there’s nothing to see here, folks. It hasn’t the slightest chance of making it through the House alive.
The bill, S. 3412, called the “Middle Class Tax Cut Act” is really just political maneuvering. The Democratic proposal which was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), squeaked by with a 51-48 vote. In fact, the vote was so close that Vice President Biden was on hand to cast a tiebreaker if it was needed (it wasn’t).
If you’re doing the math, you’ll note that there is one vote missing and that was an abstention from Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL). You can see who voted how by checking out the roll call here (spoiler alert: there are no surprises).
The 14 page bill would extend the so-called Bush tax cuts for what we’ve been calling the middle class: incomes under $250,000 for a married couple and $200,000 for an individual (I don’t know that $250,000 is actually middle class but nobody asked me). The bill has the support of the President and, if polls are to be believed, a majority of the voting public. What it doesn’t have is the support of the Republicans in Congress: their competing plan posed as an amendment, S.Amdt. 2573, failed by a vote of 45-54 (you can view that roll call here). That plan would have extended the tax cuts for all taxpayers, including those at the top.
It’s hardly news. There were no new suggestions, no revelations, no game changers. This is the same rhetoric we’ve heard since January. The difference is that we now only have about four months left until the elections and both parties want you to think they’re working on a plan. They’re really just kicking the tires.
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