Washington (CNN) – A week after roiling many of his fellow Republicans by suggesting he could vote to extend just middle class tax cuts, House Minority Leader John Boehner is urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold an "up or down vote" on extending all of the Bush era tax cuts - including those for the wealthiest Americans.
"On the issue of job-killing tax hikes the American people are not going to accept anything less than the vote they deserve," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.
"Anything less than that is unacceptable," he said.
Democratic leaders - including President Barack Obama - want to allow the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year. They argue, among other things, that the roughly $700 billion price tag of extending the cuts would be fiscally irresponsible.
Republicans contend that a tax hike on any segment of the population would damage prospects for a more robust economic recovery. They also have asserted that a tax hike on those making over $250,000 would hurt small businesses.
Boehner found himself on the defensive with many rank-and-file Republicans after stating Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he would vote for legislation extending only the tax cuts for those making under $250,000 if no alternatives were available. Since then, he has repeatedly stressed his intention to push for a full extension for at least two years.
Democratic leaders, however, have also run into problems with their rank-and-file members. Thirty-one House Democrats, most of whom face tough re-election bids this fall, have signed a letter to Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urging them to extend expiring tax breaks for all income levels, including the wealthy.
With the midterm elections now less than two months away, top Democrats have not yet decided whether they will schedule a vote on the legislation before voters go to the polls.
The letter - written by Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois, Rep. Glenn Nye of Virginia and Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan - echoes many of the GOP arguments. It states that after listening to economists, small businesses and families over recent weeks, they are concerned that "raising any taxes right now could negatively impact economic growth."
"We believe in times of economic recovery it makes good sense to maintain things as they are in the short term, to provide families and businesses the certainty required to plan and make sound budget decisions. Providing this certainty will give small businesses, the backbone of our economic recovery, confidence and stability," the lawmakers wrote.
Hoyer said earlier this week that he would consider alternative proposals, but stressed he strongly favors allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.
– CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report
I knew the minute Boehner said he'd go along with giving tax cuts to the middle class that it would ultimately hinge on the tax cuts for the "Rich and famous" I can't believe that any average citizen of this country is in favor of extending the "rich" tax cuts. This is ludicrous. I even wonder with the amount of unemployment in this country if the tax cut for the middle class will help much.If you aren't working , you aren't paying taxes.
I keep asking, but no conservative has answered. If we lost 8 million jobs during the Bush Administration – when tax cuts for the rich were in place – why do we think extending them will create jobs now?
Just another bush like flip-flopper!
Now, why does this NOT surprise me? I think John Boehner should resign, as he is clearly off his rocker. Signs of dementia are clearly upon him. Somebody need to ask him some 'confusing' questions like 'what day of the week is today'.
Why doesn't this cry baby just sit down and shut up? He is a joke.
Actually, Boehner, for the meager amount of refund the Bush tax cuts mean to me, you can abolish them all. I say stop the waste, end the Bush tax cuts completely and get us on the road to fiscal security.
Job killing? The republicans had a free ride for the rich for eight years, and, how many job increases were there?
America. they do not support or represent the majority of us, which is middle class America. We cannot let them gain control!
People turned on the Democrats for taxing and spending their way to highest poverty rate in decades.
So what do they want to do?
Tax and spend some more.
No, no, no, no, no!
You do not really understand or you do not care about the working people of our country. Be a man and stand up for what is right.
Wrong thing to do. The wealthy (which includes most of Congress), needs to pay the taxes.