Alaska’s Senators helped an effort Monday to advance the proposed tax cut bill currently being hotly debated in Washington. Both Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich voted in favor of cloture, cutting off the chance of a filibuster, and allowing the bill to move forward in the Senate. The vote was seen as a test of the deal, which was struck between President Obama and Congressional Republicans and which is detested by liberal Democrats.
It extends all of the soon-to-expire Bush Era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest Americans. Democrats are getting their desired extension of long term unemployment benefits, and the continuation of tax cuts for the middle class. But a deal brokered over the estate tax and the high-wage earning tax cuts has House Democrats threatening to block the plan. On Friday liberal Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont led a nine-hour filibuster in protest of the proposed deal.
Despite the opposition by some in his party, Democratic Senator Begich says he likes the relief it will provide for middle class and working Alaskans, and the extension of the Child Tax Credit, as well as a payroll tax cut for 2011. Begich said in a statement after Monday’s vote that it’s “not the deal he was pushing for” and that he’s concerned about how it will add to the debt. But despite those reservations Begich says the deal should win out because it keeps middle class taxes from rising.
Murkowski, a Republican, has said she supports the deal because she does not want to increase taxes for anyone when the economy is struggling.
Libby Casey – Washington, DC