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Hoyer Hedges on Tax Cuts

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that he’d be willing to discuss a compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts, but said he believes they should be extended only for the middle class.

“I’m always, as you know, prepared to discuss alternatives,” he said, when asked about the possibility of a one-year extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy alongside permanent tax cuts for those making under $250,000.

But he refused to say specifically whether he could support such an idea, which has been floated by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “You can ask it any way you want,” he said.

And he said he didn’t know what Republicans might do. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) “showed a few short seconds of reasonableness,” Hoyer said, by saying on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday that he would vote for middle-class tax cuts if that was the only choice offered, though Boehner would prefer to extend all of the tax cuts.

Boehner’s comments were ripped by the Wall Street Journal, Hoyer noted.

Hoyer said Democrats are still discussing how to approach the tax issue. “Personally, I want to see what the Senate can do,” he said, noting that about 400 bills that have passed the House are piled up in the Senate.

And he said that the deficit remains a concern.

“I don’t want to explode the deficit,” he said, noting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) legislation to make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent would add $3.9 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Hoyer said that in the past he has voted against adjustments to the Alternative Minimum Tax to compensate for inflation, unless they are paid for elsewhere.

“In my view we need to pay for things,” he said.

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