Pressure on the Massachusetts Republican increased this week when a fellow New England moderate, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, broke from GOP ranks and said she supports authorizing tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans this year and allowing taxes to rise on the upper-income 2 percent.
The other moderate Republican Mainer, Susan Collins, has proposed a 2 percent surtax on millionaires, with a carveout exemption for small business operators. Collins said Wednesday she continues to back that proposal.
In the House, Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma has publicly endorsed Obama’s demand that the House pass tax cuts for the 98 percent, based on a pending bill that passed the Senate in July, with Brown voting nay.
Brown is widely viewed as possibly mounting another Senate campaign if Democrat John F. Kerry is elevated to secretary of state and his seat becomes vacant. Brown also may opt to run for governor in 2014.
If Brown sticks to his no-tax-increase pledge and is seen as contributing to a budget crisis in January, any Democrat running against him in a Senate special election in 2013, or a Senate or governor’s race in 2014, would certainly dust off the attack used by Warren.
She said Brown was beholden to Republican leaders in Washington and was more conservative than he claims to be. She also accused him of holding “98 percent of families hostage’’ to his demand that all Bush-era tax cuts — including those for the wealthy — be extended.
On Wednesday , a close ally of Brown’s in the Senate, John Thune of South Dakota, acknowledged the difficult decision facing Brown but did not speculate on how his friend would come down on the issue.
“What he has done since he has gotten here is his views on votes has been very reflective of his constituents in Massachusetts, Thune said. “He is a Republican who is very much in the center.’’
On the GOP’s ability to work with Democrats and avoid the cliff, he added, “I remain confident, optimistic if you will, which defies conventions around here, that we’re going to get something worked out.’’