(WASHINGTON) — With the House of Representatives set to vote Wednesday on a measure to extend all of the current tax rates for one year, Republicans are amplifying their calls for Democrats to abandon plans for a tax hike on the country’s wealthiest earners.
“Two years ago the president said that stopping the tax hike was the right thing to do for our economy. Well, economic growth is worse now, but he’s out campaigning for a tax hike on small businesses,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a news conference today on Capitol Hill. “Americans want us to focus on jobs, not on raising taxes.”
Democrats maintain that extending the tax cuts for the country’s top two percent is unaffordable, adding $1 trillion to the deficit. But Republicans warn that the economic cost of a tax increase on small businesses would be dire.
“What we have is a plan, a plan to extend current law for a year as a bridge to comprehensive and fundamental tax reform that will lower rates and really get the kind of economic growth that we haven’t seen,” Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the Ways and Means committee said. “Their plan will cost us 700,000 jobs. Our plan will create a million jobs in the first year alone.”
Last week, Senate Democrats approved a plan to extend the current tax rates for families making under $250,000 for one year, while allowing the rates for families earning above $250,000 to expire. House Democrats will offer that plan Wednesday, although a vote on it is expected to fail.
Since taking over the majority, Boehner has insisted that “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” But with a lack of bipartisan consensus on a resolution ahead of the election this fall and an all-out brawl expected during the Lame Duck session of Congress, he maintained that the voters’ “No. 1 concern is about the economy and jobs.”
“You’ve heard me talk about it for over 18 months, and it has been our relentless focus over our time in the majority to do everything we could to help get Americans back to work,” the speaker said. “Stopping the looming tax hikes is another great example of trying to help our economy. The president said two years ago that raising taxes in a weak economy was the wrong thing to do; 119 Democrats voted with us to extend all of the current rates. There is no reason that we shouldn’t be doing the same thing again.”
The House is expected to vote late this afternoon on H.R. 8, the tax extension, and then before lawmakers leave for a five-week recess Thursday, the House will vote to fast track pro-growth tax reform within one year.
“The choice is clear: you either want growth or you want more taxes,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said. “You either want to endow the folks who have earned the money with the right to keep that money and grow this economy or you want to tax those people more and let Washington decide how it’s going to allocate that money.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Tom LoBianco, CNN
Eric Bradner, Jeff Zeleny and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN