On Wednesday, Democrats pushed a yearlong extension of tax cuts for all but the highest-earning Americans through the Senate with a 51-48 vote. The measure would extend those cuts, which would otherwise expire in January, into 2013, the Associated Press reports:
Senators approved the Democratic bill by a near party-line 51-48 vote, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the chamber in case his vote was needed to break a tie. Minutes earlier, lawmakers voted 54-45 to kill a rival Republican package that would have included the best-off in the tax reductions.
With control of the White House and Congress at stake in elections less than four months off, passage of the Democratic bill aligned the Senate with Obama's tax-cutting vision. Obama has made tax fairness — which includes tax increases on the rich — an overarching theme of his re-election campaign, and rejection of the measure would have been an embarrassment for the president and Senate Democrats.
However, don't get excited just yet if you're in that "all but the highest-earning" group of Americans to which the cuts apply. The extension isn't expected to pass in the House. And it's safe to say that if it doesn't, President Obama won't be happy. He issued a statement yesterday urging members not to hold the legislation "hostage":
With the Senate's vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98% of Americans and nearly every small business owner. The last thing a typical middle class family can afford is a $2,200 tax hike at the beginning of next year. It's time for House Republicans to drop their demand for another $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and give our families and small businesses the financial security and certainty that they need. Our economy isn't built from the top-down, it's built from a strong and growing middle class, and that's who we should be fighting for.
Read more at Boston.com.