Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she opposes a short-term extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a proposal that several vulnerable Democrats are pushing.
Pressed Thursday on whether she is open to a one- or two-year temporary extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in exchange for making the middle-class tax cuts permanent — an idea that has been floated recently by members of her Caucus Pelosi responded, “not for the wealthy, no.”
The California Democrat said she and her leadership team would be willing to listen to Members and their concerns, acknowledging that there were a “wide range” of ideas on how to approach the tax cuts.
“But I see no justification for going into debt to a foreign country to underwrite and subsidize tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America,” Pelosi said.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) recently indicated he might be open to a one-year extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy if Republicans would agree to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent.
Pelosi refused to commit to holding a vote on a tax cut bill before the midterm elections.
“What I believe the American people deserve is a tax cut for the middle class and — without getting into procedure and timing and process — what we are going to do is say at the end of the day, the extension of the Obama middle income tax cuts will take place,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi, President Barack Obama and other top Democrats have been pushing to extend the tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000, while letting the cuts expire for higher-income earners. Democratic leaders hope that position — coupled with GOP support for extending all the tax cuts — will allow them to draw a contrast with Republicans ahead of the midterms even if a bill doesn’t pass before Election Day.
“Republicans have made it clear that their priority is no tax cut for the middle class unless there is a tax cut for the wealthiest people in our country,” the Speaker said.
But some Democrats, particularly some in tough races, would prefer a short-term extension of all the tax cuts, and Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah), Melissa Bean (Ill.) and Glenn Nye (Va.) have been circulating a letter to urge Pelosi to do just that.
Asked what she was telling that bloc of moderate Democrats pushing for a vote on some kind of extension for the wealthy, Pelosi said she makes the case that “the taxes at the high end have not produced any jobs, they’ve only increased the deficit,” noting that 80 percent of those tax cuts go to people making more than $1 million a year.
“I respect that they have a different view,” she added. “Many of these Members are Members who are budget hawks, so I think we will be able to find some common ground on the subject.”