The Politics of the Bush Tax Cuts

Passed in 2001 and 2003, they were extended to 2012 two years ago


It's no secret President Obama is once again in campaign mode ahead of the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts as part of the fiscal cliff at the end of the year. To wit, the campaign e-mails continue. From Stephanie Cutter, Obama for America's deputy campaign manager:

Edward — 

Who will decide if your taxes increase in just 22 days? A few dozen members of the House of Representatives, that's who.

Cutting taxes for the middle class shouldn't be difficult, especially when Republicans claim they agree with the President on the issue. But some Republicans are still holding middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they want to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

Here's what's going on right now: President Obama is asking Congress to move forward on a plan that would prevent 98 percent of American families from paying higher taxes next year. The Senate has passed that bill, and the President is ready to sign it—but the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives won't even bring the bill to the floor for a vote. House Democrats have filed a petition that would force a vote if it attracts 218 signatures.

If a bill has enough votes to pass, Congress should vote on it and pass it. It's a pretty simple proposition. And every Member of Congress who hasn't signed on to keep taxes low for the middle class needs to hear from you…

The White House is involved too. From David Plouffe, a senior advisor to the president:

Something special is happening right now at the White House, and you're the reason why.

Here's the situation: If Congress doesn't act, a typical middle-class family of four will pay about $2,000 more in income taxes starting on January 1. President Obama is asking folks to add their voice to the debate and tell us what that money means to their families. And across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are speaking up.

Your response has been so incredible that we've had to ask the entire building to join the effort to read all these stories. Right now, economists and speechwriters, press secretaries and policy aides are all pitching in on top of their other duties to make sure that every single voice gets heard.

You need to be part of this. Take two minutes to share your story and be part of this remarkable conversation. Tell us what $2,000 means to middle-class families.

Where's Joe Biden? Like most Democrats at the time, he voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.Today, with control of the White House and Senate, Democrats want to keep the Bush tax cuts, they say, for 98 percent of taxpayers—the tax cuts so many of them voted against the first time around, often citing its impact on the deficit as a reason. Even Barack Obama voted against renewal legislation that passed in 2005 after he got to the Senate. Holding hostages? Playing politics? Nothing to see here.