Bush Scuttles Tax Deal
George Bush has scuttled a compromise extension of middle class tax benefits to preserve it as a campaign issue for this Fall. The compromise would have extended the cuts, which include a portion of the $1000 child tax credit, for two years. Bush and certain House conservatives were pushing for a five year extension. Rather than agree to the compromise, which had significant Democratic support and would have weakened Bush's ability to use the issue in his Presidential campaign, the White House submarined the bill.
Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post reports that
But White House officials urged Republicans to hold out for a longer extension more in line with the president's call to make the tax cuts permanent. Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. put in a round of angry phone calls Tuesday night, several Senate aides said. Then White House counselor Karl Rove and Bush himself called GOP tax writers yesterday urging them to kill the deal.Edmund Andrews of the New York Times reports that
Claire Buchan, a White House spokeswoman, said the administration was still trying to negotiate. But Republican Congressional officials said the administration did not want a deal that Democratic lawmakers might support, giving them a tax-cutting credential, too.Trapper John at Kos mocks the clear parallel between this maneuver and the Kerry "flip-flop" on troop funding. Except that Kerry's vote was defensible - he wanted the funding to be financed through current revenues, rather than deficit spending. Bush, on the other hand, avoided a compromise position to preserve a partisan political issue. Would he be so cavalier with his base?
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, had already said he would retain most of Mr. Bush's middle-class tax cuts, and many Democratic lawmakers said they would vote for a modest extension of the tax cuts even if the extension was not paid for.
"If the Democrats had been on the same side, it would have taken a lot of arrows out of the quiver,'' said one Republican staff member.