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Obama, Biden accuse GOP of holding hostage middle class tax cuts


PORTLAND, Ore. – From both the campaign trail and the White House, the Obama administration deployed a strategy to push the president’s middle class tax cut plan while accusing Republicans of holding it “hostage” to cuts for the nation’s highest earners.

Speaking at a campaign event here, Obama previewed a Senate vote Wednesday on whether to move forward his plan to expire the Bush-era tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year.

“Tomorrow the Senate is going to vote on a bill that says if you earn less than $250,000 a year, your taxes will not go up next year by a single dime. Now, members of both parties say that they agree this should happen,” Obama said.

“But of course we are dealing in Washington – the only place we agree on something but still can’t get it done,” he continued.

Obama accused Republicans, who want to preserve the tax rates for all earners, of holding the middle class cuts “hostage until we also agree to spend another $1 trillion on tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.” 

His words echoed Vice President Joe Biden, who had spoken earlier with reporters about a study by the president’s National Economic Council that highlighted what it concluded were the economic benefits of extending middle class tax cuts. The study also noted the benefits of three temporary tax credits for college costs, low-income workers and children, which Republican plans do not extend.

In the conference call with reporters, Biden accused Republicans of not wanting to take Wednesday’s vote because, he said, public opinion is against them in terms of extending the tax cuts for wealthier individuals and families.

“There’s this overwhelming concern about what Republicans call decoupling, and they know that if there’s a separate vote and the middle class tax cut is in, they don’t have the popular support for extending the tax cuts beyond that,” Biden said.

Wednesday’s vote on whether to allow the middle-class tax cuts bill to proceed is unlikely to cross the 60-vote threshold. Its largest impact will likely be Democrats getting Republicans on the record voting against middle-class tax cuts.