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GOP lawmakers take tough stand on tax cuts

by Stephen Ohlemacher
| November 14, 2010 8:00 PM

WASHINGTON - Fresh off big victories on Election Day, Republicans in Congress feel empowered in their fight to extend tax cuts that expire in January, including those for the wealthy.

President Barack Obama has said he wants to compromise with Republicans to ensure that tax cuts for middle-income families continue, suggesting he's open to extending all the tax breaks for a year or two. Republican leaders say it's a nice gesture by the president, but some key GOP lawmakers want more.

"It should be permanent," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. "We've got to get this economy to pick up and if you raise taxes you're going to stifle the economy significantly. I'm sure that somebody's explained that to the president."

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who's in line to be the next House speaker in January, also played down talk of a compromise.

"I think that extending all of the current tax rates and making them permanent will reduce the uncertainty in America and help small businesses to create jobs again," Boehner said. "You can't invest when you don't know what the rules are."

Democrats will have majorities in both the House and Senate when Congress returns this week for a lame-duck session that is expected to stretch into December. They will need Republican support to get the 60 votes necessary to pass a tax bill in the Senate.

This week, lawmakers will try to start laying the groundwork for a deal in private party caucuses and at a White House meeting Obama is hosting for leaders. Action in the House and Senate probably won't happen until after Thanksgiving.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is pushing a plan that would make the middle-income tax cuts permanent while extending those for the wealthy for just a few years.