St. Joseph News Press: Tax breaks for all incomes

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Washington, D.C., Dec 3, 2010 | comments

By Ken Newton; St. Joseph News Press

Americans might have voted for change in November, but they also wanted certainty, Congressman Sam Graves believes.

And an extension of current tax policies before the lame-duck Congress adjourns would have served that purpose, the lawmaker said.

“I’d like to see everything kept as it is,” he said Thursday morning. “I think that would do more for the economy than anything else because it brings some certainty back.”

By afternoon, Mr. Graves stood disappointed by a House vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts only to some income brackets. The congressman claimed the measure would leave small businesses and family farmers exposed to what he said amounts to a large tax hike.

“While I strongly support a permanent extension of all current tax rates, I refuse to back legislation that would punish the very entrepreneurs we rely on to create a majority of new jobs,” the Northwest Missouri Republican said in an afternoon statement.

The bill passed 234 to 188, just three Republicans voting for its approval. It now goes to the Senate, where the probability of a filibuster makes its passage unlikely.

House Democrats promoted the measure as an extension of reduced taxes to help the middle class while higher-income Americans will see tax reductions expire on Dec. 31. Talking to the News-Press earlier in the day, Mr. Graves said the current majority used a disingenuous argument.

“The other side wants to talk about tax cuts,” he said. “These aren’t tax cuts. This is just extending tax policy the way it is.”

He also discounted the Democratic claim that continuing tax cuts for higher-income Americans would swell the federal budget deficit.

“Since when is money that the government is not getting adding to the deficit?” Mr. Graves said.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, who represents Northeast Kansas, also voted against the bill. After the vote, she told followers on Twitter: “The people of Eastern KS sent me to Congress to enact good policy not play political games ... raising taxes is not the answer, esp right now.”

The Associated Press reported that congressional leaders of both parties are negotiating with the Obama administration on tax-cut extensions for all income brackets, at least on a temporary basis.

In November’s election, Republicans won enough seats in the U.S. House to reclaim the majority, but that status awaits the convention of the 112th Congress in January.

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