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Tax extension may depend on Obama

WASHINGTON — It may be up to President Obama whether Congress extends the Bush tax cuts into 2011 in the weeks after tomorrow’s election or lets the automatic increase start cutting into most people’s paychecks early next year.

Despite the punishment his fellow Democrats are expected to take from voters, Obama has shown no sign of retreating from his insistence that families and small businesses with incomes above $250,000 return to higher tax levels starting Jan. 1.

But Obama also has dodged the question of whether he would veto a bill that extends the tax cuts for everyone.

The expiring tax cuts were enacted in 2001. They include lower income-tax rates, a $1,000-per-child tax credit, relief for married couples, and lower taxes on investments and large estates.

Many longtime Congress-watchers think it’ll come down to two options: extending the full roster of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for a year in a lame-duck session that opens Nov. 15, or putting off the issue until next year for Obama and a new, likely more Republican Congress to figure out.

Republicans are hoping to ride a wave of economic fears and anti-Washington anger to a possible takeover of the House and at least several more seats in the Senate. They’re certain to stand firm on their promise to extend the Bush-era tax cuts in their entirety. 

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