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Boehner rejects call to pass tax cuts now for those making less than $250,000

Anyone thinking Republicans might be ready to accept extending the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 now, think again.

House Speaker John Boehner (R), the man at the center of negotiations with President Obama, today rejected Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole’s suggestion to pass an extension of tax cuts for 98 percent of people, declare victory, and go home.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks next to Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 28, 2012.Yuri Gripas / Reuters

"I told Tom earlier at our conference meeting that I disagreed with him,” Boehner said at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday morning. “He's a wonderful friend of mine and a great supporter of mine. In my view, raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent, half of those taxpayers are small-business owners that pay their taxes through their personal income filing every year. The goal here is to grow the economy and control spending; you're not going to grow the economy if you raise the top 2 percent rates. It'll hurt small businesses, and it'll hurt our economy, why this is not the right approach. We're willing to put revenue on the table as long as we are not raising rates."

Cole (R-OK) on Wednesday reiterated his call for Congress to pass an extension of the Bush tax rates for those making less than $250,000 first and then work on the extension for higher-earners later, a major break from the Republican's strategy in fiscal-cliff negotiations.

“In my view, we all agree that we're not going to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000 dollars, so we should just take them out of this discussion right now,” Cole said after a meeting of the GOP Conference. “Continue to fight against any rate increases; continue to try to work, honestly, for a much bigger deal.”

Cole, the deputy whip and former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, first made the suggestion during a closed-door "whip meeting" yesterday, which was first reported by Politico last night.  His comments have drawn criticism from those in his party.

Boehner is not the only Republican to disagree with Cole. Rep. Sean Duffy said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown Wednesday morning that he believed Cole’s views are in the “minority” of House Republicans. In fact, interviews with other GOP members confirms that.

The lack of support for Cole’s proposal highlights the gap that persists between the White House and House Republicans with the clock ticking toward the so-called “fiscal cliff,” when all Americans would see tax increases and there would be a round a severe Defense and domestic spending cuts unless a deal is struck.

“Cherry picking provisions and rates right now doesn’t solve the problem, and they're not a serious deficit solution,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) told reporters today after a meeting of the Republican Conference. 

Brady, who sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said he is advocating for comprehensive tax reform, to be completed next year after all rates would be extended. 

“I think we're strongly unified behind no tax increases on New Year’s Day,” he said.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) echoed Brady’s concerns, saying he believes the majority of the Republican Conference, including himself, is opposed to the idea of decoupling the Bush tax rates.

“We have to make tough decisions about our tax rates,” Labrador said. “We have to make tough decisions about our spending; we have to make tough decisions about our deficit. Let's do that today. There's nothing courageous about saying let's raise taxes on a few people today.”

In August, House Democrats proposed a bill that would do exactly what Cole proposed, but it failed 257-170 with no Republicans voting for the bill, and 19 Democrats voting against it.


How much is $250,000? Depends on the location