WASHINGTON—Senator Scott Brown, the lone Republican in the Massachusetts delegation, sided with his party Wednesday and voted against a Democratic proposal that would allow tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans to expire but would keep in place cuts for those making less than $250,000 annually.
Brown also voted against a GOP alternative that extends the cuts for all taxpayers.
The Democrats’ bill barely garnered enough votes for passage, 51-48, but Republicans who control the House vehemently oppose it. Both votes were considered political theater to stake out tax positions before the fall elections.
Brown’s Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, seized on his vote against the Democratic proposal, calling it insensitive to working families.
“Scott Brown’s got it all wrong – again—voting to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage so he could protect tax breaks for billionaires,” Warren said in a statement. “Now was the time to stand with working families in Massachusetts but Scott Brown said ‘no.’”
Brown’s reelection campaign released a statement that called on both Democrats and Republicans to instead work on tax and spending reforms that keep rates low, promote job growth, and lowers the growth in the federal deficit.
Brown said it was “not the time to raise taxes on anyone—not on low-income individuals and families, not on the middle-class, and not on the small businesses struggling to grow and create the jobs necessary to drive economic recovery, especially as we teeter on the verge of a double-dip recession.
Marcie Kinzel, Brown’s spokeswoman in Washington, said the senator did not support the GOP alternative sponsored by Orrin Hatch of Utah “because it did not extend certain tax cuts for low-income Americans,” referring, she said, to tax credits for education and children that other Republicans were willing to allow to lapse.
Republican Susan Collins of Maine joined Brown in voting against the GOP bill.
The Bush tax cuts will automatically expire at the end of the year if Congress does not take action. The Senate victory for Democrats was made possible by a straight up-or-down vote after Republicans waived their right to filibuster.
Senator John Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts, hailed the vote as a victory for working families.
“Many working families in Massachusetts are hanging on by their fingertips and an increase in taxes would have pushed them over the edge,” Kerry said. “Making sure their taxes don’t go up while they’re trying to pay their bills, put food on the table, and send their kids to college is common sense and good economics. Balancing the budget on the backs of middle class families who bore the brunt of the economic collapse would be adding insult to injury.”
He said the measure would protect 2.5 million Massachusetts families from tax increases averaging about $1,600.