Bush-Obama Tax Cuts
Late last night, the House of Representatives passed extension of currents tax rates and unemployment benefits by a vote of 277 to 148, despite a failed effort by Democrats to increase the Death Tax from 35% to 45%:
A tax-cut compromise between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans – a harbinger of a new era of divided government in Washington – cleared the House around midnight Thursday, sending the $858 billion bill to the president’s desk.
The bill, which passed 277 to 148, provides a two-year extension for all tax cuts that were due to expire Dec. 31 – including for families earning more than $250,000 a year — and extends unemployment insurance benefits through next year. It also sets estate tax rates at 35 percent, with an exemption on the first $5 million.
In the end, the House vote wasn’t close, with 139 Democrats joining 138 Republicans to approve the bill. The Senate passed the bill comfortably as well Wednesday, 81 to 19.
The bill represented a major shift for Obama, as he abandoned an oft-repeated campaign promise that he would end the policy of cutting taxes for the wealthy. But the House Republican landslide in the midterm elections – a “shellacking,” Obama called it – forced the president to cut a deal so middle-class families didn’t see a tax hike on his watch, even though it infuriated his liberal base.
The rhetoric on the floor of the House was testy at times, but in the end 139 Democrats voted for extension of the tax cuts, which is one more than the number of Republicans voting for the bill.