(WASHINGTON) — Senate Democrats Wednesday blocked a vote on President Obama’s own tax plan.
On Monday, the president called on Congress to pass an extension of the “Bush tax cuts” for middle-income earners while letting rates on wealthier Americans rise at the end of the year.
“My message to Congress is this,” Obama said Monday, “Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle class,” he added. “I will sign it tomorrow. Pass it next week, I’ll sign it next week.”
Wednesday Senate Republican leadership offered to do just that — to hold a vote in the Senate on the president’s plan — but Democrats blocked it. Obama often publicly blames Republicans for such congressional stonewalling, but it was his own colleagues who nixed the plan.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell asked consent on the Senate floor this morning to set up two votes Wednesday in the Senate: one on the president’s proposal and another on the Republican’s alternative plan that would extend all of the current tax rates for one year and charge the finance committee with coming up with a proposal within that year for pro-growth tax reform.
“My recommendation is we give the president what he asked for,” McConnell said.
The political maneuver was likely used to demonstrate that at this time there are not the votes among Democrats to pass the president’s plan in the Senate, a point underscored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reaction in which he objected moments later to the Republicans request to hold a vote on the president’s plan.
Reid objected on the grounds that a vote on the president’s plan would “divert attention” to what the Senate is working on — a small business jobs bill.
“We try to legislate here the program of the Republicans in the Senate has been to divert and deny and obstruct, “ Reid said, “I asked the presiding officer when we started what are we doing here? We’re on a small business jobs bill. A pretty, simple piece of legislation but extremely important.”
A Democratic leadership aide says they will “absolutely” have a vote on the extension of the Bush tax cuts this work period but they believe first the Senate should pass the small business tax cut bill. They characterize the Republicans move as a “thinly disguised filibuster” to use as an excuse to oppose a small business tax cut Republicans are “afraid” to oppose on substance.
Republicans are in essence calling the president’s bluff that there is support in the Democratic Senate for his plan.
“It’s mind-boggling to me, Senate democratic leadership turned down an opportunity to vote on President Obama’s tax increase bill,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said, “it tells us that the president’s tax increase plan is not just an economic disaster, it’s a political loser. And they know it. It tells us in spite of the big talking from the president’s Chicago reelection campaign about evil Republicans who want to extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief, vulnerable members of the Senate’s Democratic conference do not want to be anywhere near the president’s tax increase alternative.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN