- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

Democrats, stealing a page out of Republicans’ playbook, plan to return to their states next week and blame Republicans for rising taxes, barring a last-minute deal on a long-stalled package of tax measures.

“The GOP Congress will raise taxes on 19.2 million Americans unless something is done before [today],” according to a memo of talking points sent out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“Middle-class families will see their state and local sales taxes, college tuition and fees, and teachers’ purchase of school supplies get more expensive because the Republican Congress is failing to act.”

House Democrats, including New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel, have made the same argument.

“Well, who’s raising taxes now?” said Mr. Rangel, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Republican senators, particularly those in tough races this year, are fighting for a broader package of tax cuts and said they are disgusted that Democrats fail to mention their refusal to compromise.

“My position is that they all need to get done — I need them all done,” said Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, who is locked in a competitive race for his Senate seat with Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown.

The Republican-led Congress has tried but failed to extend a series of tax breaks set to expire at the end of the year and even added a minimum-wage increase to attract Democrats. Democrats in August refused to end debate and allow a vote on the package, citing opposition to cuts in the “death tax” on inheritances.

Republicans have been unable to produce the 60-vote majority needed to get the legislation to a full vote, and no efforts are being made to work out a deal as Congress prepares to adjourn this weekend until after the November midterm elections.

“Doesn’t look like it,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. “Not at all. Democrats at this point want to kill them all.”

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said he hadn’t heard about any effort to restart the package known as the “trifecta” bill. “We tore up our tickets, lost our bets on that.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the Republican Party’s caucus chairman who is locked in a tough re-election battle, called the Democrats’ tactic the “block and blame” game. He said it is ridiculous to think the package won’t get approved after the election.

Last week, President Bush said in a speech that Democrats would try to raise taxes if they reclaimed the House and Senate.

Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Max Baucus of Montana earlier this week offered a deal — voting on the tax-cut extension and minimum wage separately. Republicans balked at excluding the death tax measure, saying everyone should be able to get the things they want.

Unless extended, the following tax cuts expire at the end of the year: an annual $250 deduction for teachers’ out-of-pocket classroom expenses worth about $814 million; a deduction allowing Americans to count a portion of their retirement savings against their taxes; one for Americans living in states without income taxes to deduct their state sales taxes; and one allowing businesses to deduct portions of their profits going toward research and development costs.

A cut allowing college students to deduct as much as $4,000 of their tuition costs was lost last year.

This story is based in part on wire service dispatches.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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