Tax Cuts For Rich Move Forward In Senate

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Monday voted to move forward on a a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts as well as a package of tax cuts and credits for the middle class, ethanol subsidies and a 13 month reauthorization of unemployment insurance. The vote follows months of insistent bipartisan concern about the size of the federal deficit.

The vote is being held open to accommodate senators arriving in town, but the package already had 66 votes in favor of moving forward shortly after 4:15. Eight senators stood against the deal: Republican John Ensign (R-Nev.); Democrats Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Pat Leahy (Vt.) and Mark Udall (Colo.); and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who spoke for hours against the bill on Friday.

The bill, with the unusual name of Reid-McConnell, originated in negotiations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans. House Democrats last week resolved to urge their leadership not to bring the bill to the floor, but lower-chamber leaders have been signaling that the House will consider the Senate product — though there will be attempts to amend it.

“It’s clear it’s the right thing to do for middle-income Americans,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the chamber’s finance committee. Baucus said he was confident the bill would make its way through the House. “It will pass,” he said.

House Democrats are particularly offended by the estate-tax portion of the compromise, which funnels some $25 billion to some 6,600 families. The provision exempts the first $5 million in inheritance from taxation and reduces the rate on the rest.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said he objected to the unfairness of the package. It “gives $68 billion to the trust-fund babies with security, it’s going to last two years. To the unemployed, he gives $56 billion.” Extending tax cuts for two years, said McDermott, while giving unemployment insurance for one, shows a legislative chamber with its priorities far askew.

When the deal was first announced, it was greeted with fury by some Democrats. “I’m going to argue forcefully for the nonsensicalness and the almost, you know, moral corruptness of that particular policy,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), walking into a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats to discuss the deal on last Tuesday. “This is beyond politics. This is about justice and doing what’s right.”

It, Tax Cuts For Rich Move Forward In Senate extract from Latest News on HuffPost

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