Senate Democrats pass middle-class tax cut

Senate Democrats voted yesterday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all except wealthy individuals and couples reporting incomes exceeding $200,000 and $250,000 a year, respectively.

The Middle Class Tax Cut Act – S. 3412 – passed the Senate 51-48 along partisan lines, with Democrats supporting the measure and Republicans opposing it.

Read more: Obama presses Congress to extend middle-class tax cuts 

The bill, if passed by the House and signed into law by the President, will prevent a 3% tax hike on middle-class Americans but allow the tax rates for the top two income brackets return to pre-2001 levels in 2013.

In addition, tax rates on capital gains – or earnings that result from the buying or selling of properties, stocks, and bonds – for individuals in the top income brackets will revert to 20% from the current rate of 15%.

Read more: Romney’s tax controversy shines spotlight on tax code that favors wealth over wages

Those high-income earners will also be limited in the amount of personal exemptions and itemized deductions that they can claim to reduce the amount of taxes that they would have to pay.

Individuals, including most small business owners, earning less than $200,000 a year or couples reporting less than $250,000 in income annually will have their 3% tax cut extended until the end of 2013.

Finally, the bill will also extend a series of temporary tax cuts – such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit – through 2013.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stated that 98% of Americans will benefit from tax cut extension, which would save an average family of about $2,200 next year, and urged House Republicans to approve the Senate bill.

However, Republicans will likely oppose the bill if the tax cuts are not extended to top income earners as well. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted that Senate Democrat’s bill would harm the fragile economic recovery by increasing taxes on “small” businesses and capital gains and dividend earnings.

Read more: CBO report shows extending Bush tax cuts will raise deficit

“If Republicans in the House fail to act on this bill, taxes will rise by $2,200 for the typical middle-class family of four. That is $2,200 less to spend on gas, groceries, rent, and life in general for these people. This tax hike on ordinary families couldn’t come at a worse time–just as our economy is doing its utmost to get back on its feet,” said Reid. “Republicans should not force middle-class families off their fiscal cliff to protect more wasteful giveaways to millionaires and billionaires–an average of $160,000 a year per millionaire. Democrats believe this country can’t afford more budget-busting giveaways for the top 2 percent of earners.”

Reid pointed out that the Republicans’ plan would actually raise taxes on 25 million middle-class families by about $1,000 a year while giving the average millionaire million a $160,000 tax break. The Republican amendment, which failed in a 45-54 vote, would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for everyone, keep the capital gains and dividends tax rate capped at 15%, and instruct the Senate Committee on Finance to draw up legislation to cut corporate taxes to 25%.

“Republicans should not force middle-class families off their fiscal cliff to protect more wasteful giveaways to millionaires and billionaires,” said Reid. “Democrats believe this country can’t afford more budget-busting giveaways for the top 2 percent of earners…But that is a debate we are willing to have, and the House Republicans need not hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage in order to have that debate. They can and should pass our middle-class tax cuts immediately.”

List of Senators who voted against S. 3412 “Middle Class Tax Cut Act”:

Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)
Ayotte, Kelly – (R – NH)
Barrasso, John – (R – WY)
Blunt, Roy – (R – MO)
Boozman, John – (R – AR)
Brown, Scott P. – (R – MA)
Burr, Richard – (R – NC)
Chambliss, Saxby – (R – GA)
Coats, Daniel – (R – IN)
Coburn, Tom – (R – OK)
Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)
Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME)
Corker, Bob – (R – TN)
Cornyn, John – (R – TX)
Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)
DeMint, Jim – (R – SC)
Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)
Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)
Grassley, Chuck – (R – IA)
Hatch, Orrin G. – (R – UT)
Heller, Dean – (R – NV)
Hoeven, John – (R – ND)
Hutchison, Kay Bailey – (R – TX)
Inhofe, James M. – (R – OK)
Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA)
Johanns, Mike – (R – NE)
Johnson, Ron – (R – WI)
Kyl, Jon – (R – AZ)
Lee, Mike – (R – UT)
Lieberman, Joseph I. – (ID – CT)
Lugar, Richard G. – (R – IN)
McCain, John – (R – AZ)
McConnell, Mitch – (R – KY)
Moran, Jerry – (R – KS)
Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK)
Paul, Rand – (R – KY)
Portman, Rob – (R – OH)
Risch, James E. – (R – ID)
Roberts, Pat – (R – KS)
Rubio, Marco – (R – FL)
Sessions, Jeff – (R – AL)
Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL)
Snowe, Olympia J. – (R – ME)
Thune, John – (R – SD)
Toomey, Patrick J. – (R – PA)
Vitter, David – (R – LA)
Webb, Jim – (D – VA)
Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS)


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