Congress Reignites Tax Debate

Weeks before it takes more than a month off to campaign, Congress is reigniting the debate over taxes. Lawmakers are taking votes to bolster campaign talking points.

The Senate voted down a number of small-business tax provisions Thursday afternoon, most of them that sound quite appealing to both parties.

And yet they failed. Senator Lisa Murkowski:

“We are in the midst of yet more messaging,” Murkowski said.

Both parties are guilty of that political messaging; the Republicans brought forward a provision that would have given businesses that hire more people a tax cut of 20 percent. It faced a veto threat and criticism because it classified businesses with 500 workers as small.

The Democratic plan that went down would have given business owners a credit up to $500,000 for adding new workers. That one never had a chance of becoming law, because the Constitution requires taxes start in the House.

And that political showmanship sets the backdrop for an upcoming debate over income taxes.

President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for families making up to $250,000 a year. He’s urging them to let the cuts expire for households that make more than a million dollars annually.

Senator Mark Begich says he likes the president’s proposal, but he and a few other Democrats, are willing to extend the lower rates up to the million dollar level.

“That’s a fair compromise. I think that gets you up to 99% of all the small businesses and 99% of all families and individuals,” Begich said.

The entire package of tax cuts is set to expire at the end of the year … and both senators indicated Congress likely won’t decide whether to keep them until after the election.

Until then, you’ll hear coordinated messages on taxes, both in Washington, and on the campaign.

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