Senator John Kerry, among the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill, is falling in line behind the president and saying he believes tax cuts for the middle class should be extended but those for the highest wage-earners should be allowed to expire.
The Bush-era cuts are set to expire at the end of this year without action from Congress, setting the stage for a bitter partisan dispute about exactly what should be done.
Republicans say hiking taxes will hurt the already wobbly economy and that many small business owners fall within the targeted tax brackets -- individuals earning more than $200,000 annually and families with income totaling more than $250,000. They appear poised to block any measure extending the cuts unless it includes higher wage-earners.
Democrats have dismissed such assertions and Obama yesterday accused Republicans of holding middle-class cuts "hostage" in exchange for cuts for the rich.
Kerry, whose income puts him squarely in that category, said "under no circumstances do I believe we should give a blanket extension to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."
"It won't fix our economy and it will add billions to the long-term structural deficit," he said.
On the other hand, he said, "It makes perfect sense to protect tax cuts for the middle class Americans who bore the brunt of the Wall Street meltdown and are still digging their way out from under the recession."
His view puts Kerry in direct opposition with the state's other senator, Scott Brown, a Wrentham Republican whose spokeswoman said yesterday that he intends to fight for cuts for the wealthy, too, alongside his GOP colleagues.
"Raising taxes will kill jobs and slow down an economic recovery," the spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, said.
The Globe reported today that for middle-class families in Massachusetts, keeping the cuts could mean $1,831 in their pockets each year. If Congress doesn't pass an extension, they can expect to pay that much more.
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About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.