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Posted at 05:44 PM ET, 04/18/2011

On Tax Day, parties spar over extending cuts for wealthy, corporations

In a flurry of Tax Day statements, Democrats and Republicans both claimed credit for cutting taxes and took swipes at each other over the country’s fiscal path forward, particularly on the issue of taxes on the wealthy and on businesses.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, pointed to the passage of House Republicans’ proposed fiscal 2012 budget last Friday, which includes a provision that would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.

“While middle income families are paying more than a quarter of their income in taxes today, House Republicans want to give more tax breaks to big corporations – many of whom aren’t paying any taxes already,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) defended Republicans’ proposed fiscal 2012 budget Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” arguing that the reduction in the corporate tax rate would be balanced out in part by doing away with loopholes and deductions often used by wealthier earners.

Meanwhile, House Republicans on Monday touted last December’s deal between the White House and congressional leaders that extended the Bush-era tax cuts for all income-earners. President Obama said in a speech last week that he will not support another extension of the upper-income cuts, a point that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) seized on Monday.

“Last week, President Obama again demanded that families and small businesses pay higher taxes; a direct affront to the bipartisan December deal that he has repeatedly credited for America’s economic uptick and recent job growth,” Cantor said in a statement. “We all agree that we need to address our fiscal crisis, but taxing struggling families and businesspeople is not the answer, as recent employment reports have made clear.”

In their Tax Day statement, Senate Democrats, too, pointed to last December’s tax-cut package – only they excluded the cuts for the wealthy. The Democrats claimed credit for enacting “$1.5 trillion in tax cuts since 2007,” citing a list of 13 mostly-Democratic legislative agenda items ranging from last year’s national health-care overhaul to the February 2009 stimulus package.

The first bullet point on the list – and the one comprising the greatest amount in cuts – represents a portion of last December’s tax-cut deal. Brian Fallon, communications director for the Senate Democratic Communications Center, said Monday that the $714 billion in cuts cited by Senate Democrats excludes the extension of cuts for those making $250,000 and above, the part of the tax-cut package that most Democrats vociferously opposed four months ago.

While most Democrats opposed the upper-income cuts, majorities in both chambers ultimately backed the deal, contending that given the choice of extending either all of the cuts or none of them, the former was the lesser of two evils. In the final votes on the tax-cut package last December, nearly a quarter of Senate Democrats and 44 percent of House Democrats voted against the deal.

A Gallup Poll released late last week revealed sharp partisan divisions on the issue of tax cuts for the wealthy. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans opposed heavy taxes on the wealthy, while 71 percent of Democrats support such taxes.

A separate Gallup Poll released Monday showed that 50 percent of national adults believe that federal income taxes are too high, while 43 percent said the amount is about right and 4 percent said their taxes are too low.

In spring 2001, before the Bush-era tax cuts were enacted, 65 percent of adults polled by Gallup said their federal income taxes were too high.

By  |  05:44 PM ET, 04/18/2011

 
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