US Senate votes to extend tax cuts for all but top 2 percent

It was just a little over two weeks ago when President Obama said this:

Obama: “Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle class, I will sign it tomorrow.”

Senate Democrats voted pretty much down party lines Wednesday to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone but individuals making $200,000 or more and couples making more than $250,000. As the LA Times reports:

LA Times: “Democrats believe Wednesday’s action will shift the debate in a Congress … giving momentum to Obama’s proposal – and drawing a contrast with Mitt Romney …”

Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb and Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman joined their Republican colleagues in the 51-48 vote which came after a vote to extend tax cuts for everyone was rejected 45-54. On the Senate floor Majority Leader Harry Reid said giving tax breaks to the wealthy would be wasteful.

Reid: “Republicans should not force middle-class families off their fiscal cliff to protect more wasteful giveaways to millionaires and billionaires.”

Interestingly, Vice President Joe Biden presided over today’s vote but due to Senate rules was not allowed to engage the debate. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell drew laughs from his GOP colleagues when he noted that Biden supported extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone back in 2010.

McConnell: “So be grateful, I say to my friend, the vice president — this is a debate that I don’t think you would want to lead.”

The bill is now on its way to the Republican-controlled House where it is expected to be voted down sometime next week. Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich calls Wednesday’s vote symbolic and says it is really all about the November presidential elections.

Zwillich: “This is what the election is about. It really is about Democrats’ and Republicans’ competing visions for how to re-order income distribution after the election.”

When the Bush tax cuts first expired in 2010, President Obama had also called for ending them for the wealthiest Americans. In the end, GOP opposition resulted in a two-year extension for everyone.

Via Newsy