Washington (CNN) - Congressional Republicans Wednesday seized on comments from former President Bill Clinton – who suggested a day earlier he could support a short term extension of all the so-called "Bush" tax rates set to expire at the end of the year.
GOP leaders said they wanted a minimum one year extension of all of the current tax cuts, and cited Clinton's remarks in order to put pressure on Democrats who favor just continuing the tax breaks for the middle class. Republicans argued that no changes should be made to tax rates at a time when the economy is still fragile.
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House Speaker John Boehner said the rates should be extended "at least a year" to give employers financial certainty. Republicans have been discussing options for what kind of short term extension they would push as they work toward a broader tax reform measure next year. But it was the first time Boehner publicly stated he wanted the one year extension.
In an interview on CNBC on Tuesday, Clinton said he believed the major fight over taxes would be put off until next year due to the economic situation, and said "I don't have any problem with extending all of it now" - referring to the tax rates. Even though Clinton made it clear in the same interview that he did not support making the Bush tax cuts permanent, which Republicans want, the GOP quickly raced to frame Clinton's comments as undercutting President Obama and Democrats' position.
The former President's spokesman later clarified that "President Clinton has said many times before, he supported extending all of the cuts in 2010 as part of the budget agreement, but does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again."
Boehner used the clarification to tweak the former President, saying, "Even Bill Clinton came out for it, before he was against it."
GOP leaders also pointed to comments by Clinton's former Treasury Secretary, and Obama's former economic advisor, Larry Summers in an interview on MSNBC, who said "the real risk to this economy is on the side of slowdown…and that means we've got to make sure that we don't take gasoline out of the tank at the end of this year." Though Summers didn't specifically call for an extension of the tax breaks, and the examples he gave for boosting the economy involved spending, the GOP used both Democrats' comments as a way to underline their point that tax rates should stay unchanged as the economy continues to recover.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell noted that President Obama signed on to extend some tax cuts in 2010 because he believed it was best for the struggling economy. McConnell noted, "the growth rate now is actually slower than it was in December of '10." The Republican leader echoed Boehner, saying, "it's pretty obvious that the economy needs the certainty of the extension of the current tax rates for at least a year."
Democrats said the GOP is still focused on protecting the rich at the expense of middle income taxpayers.
"President Obama's been clear about his position and it has not changed. We should not extend, and he will not extend the tax cuts, the Bush-era tax cuts, for the wealthiest two percent of the American people," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Boehner's spokesman Kevin Smith said the Speaker and other Republicans raised Clinton and Summers' comments at the weekly GOP meeting and said the Democrats' statements served to "throw gas on the fire" as the debate over how to deal with the tax rates continues in the next few weeks. The House is expected to vote next month on a measure to extend the rates, but leaders are still discussing the details. But few on Capitol Hill believe real talks on the issue will begin until after the fall election.
On Thursday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer will sit down with former President Bill Clinton for an extensive interview from the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago. The interview will air at 4 p.m. ET.
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H.E.L.L NO, everything must go. shake every last thing off. Start with a clean slate. Failed republican policies (especially, the Bush tax cuts), gone. Failed Democratic policies, (can't really think of any at this time, but I'm sure there are some) gone. Republican party, search for a true and clear capable leader, let them continue their search because Romney is not it. Keep Obama in place. get rid of Boehner the D.R.U.N.K and Mcconnell the S.K.U.N.K. Both are the weakest links in congress!
At some point rates need to go up. I don't like paying more but I'd rather do it in a normal way than austerity measures were seeing in European countries. That would see our country feeling more pain and we could end up paying more.
@Dean – the 13.8% is on the money that he has already paid 36% taxes on.
No wonder its called fuzzy math. Must be new GOP math! That's is NOT on top of the 36% (which it is NOT anyway, as top rate since 2003 has been 35%). That is 13.8% on his CG (Capital Gains) which is un-earned Investment income. Please check some FACTS and stop displaying the usual right wing amnesiac revisionist version of the TRUTH !
ThinkAgain – Because they haven't caused the rich to invest in the US
They invest in the USA every day.
and we could use it to pay down the debt and invest in our country.
Won't amount to a hill of beans. Debt is far bigger than what is taken in taxes.
American companies are sitting on $2 trillion. What are they waiting for?
A reason to spend it. All they know right now is that nothing is decided with taxes and Obamacare is coming unless it gets tossed. The people they have right now is suffcient for the demand for their products and services.
Why aren't they investing here?
Where are the jobs?
Everywhere. You just have to look for them or relocate for them. The days of life long jobs with large manufacturing companies is gone.
NO!!! Let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year. HAve you forgotten that those weren't paid for just like Bush's two unfunded wars? Raise taxes!!!
@ThinkAgain... you liberals can't argue that the president's policies have lowered the unemployment rate and then spit on the very corporations that hired people...
Well said BLINDERSOFF. Business and Wall St. need certainty? Well, they can be certain that taxes are going up on the first of the year.
Blindersoff - i'll give you a Boehner, McConnell, and Romney... and raise you an Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Wasserman-Schultz, Bernanke and Geithner
Democrats voted to extend the tax cuts and OBAMA signed it into law. They did it because they KNOW raising taxes is bad for the economy. DEMOCRATS OWN THEM NOW. What is so difficult to understand about that? DEMOCRATS passed, OBAMA signed it for their OWN benefit. Bush was OUT OF OFFICE!! They are the OBAMA TAX CUTS. Just like the payroll tax cuts are the OBAMA TAX CUTS.
Why do the Democrats and liberals ALWAY S refuse to take ownership of their deeds???
Clinton is a very, very smart man and is not only on target but his timing to bring the Bush tax cuts up, is impecable. Clinton isn't going "rogue" he's going right after the Republicans who plan to do exactly what he said.