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Did Joseph Biden Choose Charles Schumer Over President on Tax Policy?

Vice President Joseph Biden caused a small stir Thursday by seemingly raising the income cutoff that Democrats will demand in negotiations about the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

“The middle class will pay less, and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more,” Biden said during Thursday night’s vice presidential debate with GOP contender Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.).

The policy of the Obama administration this year has been to extend the tax cuts only for families with annual incomes up to $250,000.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Biden’s comment didn’t signal a change in the administration’s stance on the tax cuts. “Absolutely not,” Carney said. “Our position on the Bush tax cuts has not changed.”

Carney said Biden’s remarks reiterated the long-standing views of the administration but that he was merely illustrating how much of the tax cuts went to the wealthiest Americans.

In discussing their stance on taxes, Democrats often use “millionaires” as shorthand for the group of wealthier Americans who would see their income tax rates revert to those last seen in the Clinton administration.

Some Democrats, including the party’s No. 3 ranking Senator, Charles Schumer (N.Y.), though, have argued in favor of the $1 million cutoff when renewing the Bush-era tax cuts, which were extended by the Obama administration in 2010.

“I’ve always preferred the $1 million line for all the reasons that I’ve stated,” Schumer said at a news conference this week. “But to me it’s far more important that the high-end people pay, help contribute to revenues than it is where exactly you draw the line. So the president felt very strongly about it. And I am not going to create an internecine fight which would hurt the larger goal on that basis.”

Sam Goldfarb contributed to this report.

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