Boehner fuels Bush tax cuts buzz with hint of G.O.P. compromise

Republicans have said if the rich can't keep the Bush tax cuts, no one can--however John Boehner, looking ahead to the mid-term election, appears to be softening his stance. Image: Thinkstock.

The Bush tax cuts sat at the top of the agenda as Congress returned from a five-week vacation Monday. No one expects Congress to get much done before lawmakers drop everything in about four weeks to campaign for the mid-term election. Democrats propose repealing the Bush tax cuts for all but those making $250,000 a year or more. Republicans have said they will not vote for anything but making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent for everyone. The typical Congressional stalemate seemed inevitable. However, House Minority Leader John Boehner added intrigue to the debate Sunday when he said he would vote for ending the tax breaks for the rich if that was his only choice for a tax cut.

Boehner’s Bush tax cuts surprise

The Bush tax cuts requesting to all taxpayers enacted in 2001 and 2003 expire at the end of the year. The Obama administration wants to extend the Bush tax cuts to everyone but America’s richest people. CNN reports that Republicans and some Democrats oppose the plan, calling it a tax increase in a weak economy. Republicans have threatened a filibuster unless the tax cuts are extended to all–which would essentially allow them to expire for all. Democrats have accused Republicans of holding middle class tax breaks hostage in order to get tax breaks for the rich. Then Boehner’s suggestion that he may compromise on the Bush tax cuts surprised everyone.

Fearful Democrats crawl in bed with Republicans

Boehner dropped his bomb even as a growing number of Democrats fearful of the mid-term election have said they may prefer to extend all the Bush tax cuts for another couple of years as the economy recovers. The Washington Post reports that half a dozen Democratic senators and Senate candidates have suggests such a temporary extension of tax cuts for the rich. In the House, the number of incumbents taking that position are growing. A third way that is getting attention proposes raising the $250,000 tax cut threshold to $1 million per household, to compensate for regions of the country with higher costs of living.

Boehner maneuvers for power, not the middle class

Democrats crowed when Boehner appeared to blink on the Bush tax cuts issue. However, the Christian Science Monitor suggests that Boehner may simply be preparing for his ascension to Speaker of the House should Republicans gain control of the government following the mid-term elections. The Monitor said that unlike the opposition leader, the speaker is actually responsible for getting bills passed. By suggesting he may be willing to compromise, Boehner could set up a tax-cut deal he could take credit for. Plus, if a tax bill gets passed in the short time that remains ahead of the mid-term election, Republicans could say it offers proof they are better than Democrats at getting results. Whether or not Boehner has the good of the middle class in mind with his strategy, the Monitor did not say.