Tax cuts pass House; GOP threatens filibuster

Colorado’s U.S. senators are unlikely to be allowed to cast votes for extending the Bush tax cuts in the form they would prefer.

The House voted 234-188 in the lame-duck session Thursday to extend the Bush tax cuts to taxpayers earning under $250,000 a year.

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., voted for the measure. He had called during his unsuccessful re-election campaign for a yearlong extension of the cuts without capping them at $250,000.

Republicans called the measure, which passed with three GOP votes, a “vote to saddle small businesses with a job-killing tax hike.”

The measure is unlikely to move ahead because the 42 Senate Republicans have vowed to filibuster a vote on any measures other than those extending the cuts to all taxpayers and on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., called it “irresponsible that a few senators would hold hostage relief for the middle class and funding for our troops just so that millionaires and billionaires can get extra tax breaks.”

Congress should remain in session until it can reach agreement, Udall said.

The tax cuts expire Dec. 31.

Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., prefer the extension of the tax cuts only to married taxpayers with incomes below $250,000 or single taxpayers earning below $200,000 a year.

Bennet’s top priority is extending the tax cuts for the middle class, and he offered “a plan that would extend all tax cuts for one year so we can have a real conversation on how to pay for them and how we can retool our tax code to drive innovation and keep jobs in America,” a spokesman said.

Capping the tax cuts could be counterproductive, said Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

Taxpayers with incomes of $250,000 or more “are the ones with the wherewithal to invest and start capitalizing new companies.”

Companies that made it through the recession are sitting on large amounts of capital, but they are leery of investing for fear of tax or regulatory developments that could penalize them, Schwenke said.

“What’s playing out in Congress is just another piece of what’s causing the uncertainty,” Schwenke said. “I’m hoping they get it resolved. A temporary extension (of the Bush tax cuts) is better, but it doesn’t resolve the certainty question.”

The White House, meanwhile, has floated the notion of linking extension of the Bush tax cuts with an extension of unemployment benefits and the extension of tax cuts and credits in the stimulus package that also expire this year.


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