Tax-cut debate dividing Colorado Democrats in Congress
The Denver Post
With leaders from both parties pushing for a tough debate over the expiring Bush tax cuts as a frame for the November election, the issue is splintering Colorado Democrats in Congress.
Reps. Betsy Markey of Fort Collins and John Salazar of Manassa – the delegation’s two Blue Dog Democrats – have ended up on opposite sides of the issue.
“I just don’t think you can raise taxes on anybody in this economy,” Salazar said this week, parting ways with Markey, who flatly opposes extending the tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year. A plan outlined by the White House supports the extension only for the middle class.
That’s not quite as far as Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is willing to go.
In addition to supporting the extension of cuts for the middle class, Bennet is open to an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy – if temporary – while fellow Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall would rather consider a compromise on other elements. Those might include a limit on the increase in rates the rich pay on capital gains and dividends, which the White House plan also would raise.
Those divisions suggest the debate is more muddied than party strategists on either side would like, especially for an issue that has become a proxy for a governing philosophy the two sides will take to voters in November.
When they were passed in 2001, the Bush-era tax cuts included a sunset provision because of the dramatic impact they were projected to have on the federal deficit. The cuts – which dropped the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent as well as lowering the taxes paid by just about every American – expire at the end of this year.
But driven by the campaign-season needs of both parties, the issue has suddenly risen to the status of fiercely fought political terrain.
Conservatives see it as highlighting core Reagan-era, anti-tax values, while Democrats see the issue as underscoring their fight for the middle class.
Still, Republicans are facing their own divisions.
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