Sen. Ben Nelson doubled down on his insistence that Congress extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, not just those for the middle class.
The Nebraska Democrat also said he would like to try to pay for or offset the nearly $3.7 trillion it would cost to do so over 10 years.
In a statement released the day after President Barack Obama asserted that he believes those making more than $250,000 a year can afford a tax increase, Nelson said: “I support extending all of the expiring tax cuts until Nebraska’s and the nation’s economy is in better shape, and perhaps longer, because raising taxes in a weak economy could impair recovery.”
He added: “Just like the stimulus package in 2009, it is imperative that we take actions to help the economy. I hate deficit spending, but some matters are so urgent that they can’t wait. Such was the case with the stimulus package, which contained more than $300 billion in tax relief, and I believe the same holds true about the expiring Bush-era tax cuts.”
Nelson did not make offsets a requirement for his vote but said he preferred to find spending cuts elsewhere to pay for the tax breaks.
“I’d like to see these tax cuts paid for as much as possible. We need to focus on reducing government spending and finding offsets where we can, because that’s the fiscally responsible thing to do,” he said.
Nelson, a moderate who regularly breaks with his party on major legislation, has repeatedly said he does not agree with Obama’s plan to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire. That position has been embraced by the majority of the Senate Democratic caucus. Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) are also on record as opposing the Democratic plan.