With the House set to vote on extending all the Bush tax cuts later this week, Democrats are hammering 23 Republicans in competitive districts with an online ad that accuses them of backing millionaires at the expense of the middle class.
The House Republican leadership will bring up a bill that preserves the tax rates passed in 2001 and 2003, but does not keep the benefits that were added to help the middle class when the rates were extended in 2009. Roughly 25 million households take advantage of those newer breaks, which include expanded child tax credits and earned income tax credits.
Democrats are countering with a measure that preserves the middle class tax breaks. It also aims to keep the current rates for individuals earning up to $200,000 and joint returns up to $250,000. That covers about 98 percent of the country.
"Good news! Republicans want to cut your taxes," the spot says, showing an average-looking worker before declaring, "Not you -- YOU!" and switching to a rich guy with a mansion. "And you deserve a tax break -- after all, these things are expensive. So Republicans want to give you, the millionaire, another tax break."
"This guy? Her?" the ad says, showing people shopping. "They don’t need it. They’ll just buy groceries and pay the mortgage. But you’re going places!" It ends, showing the rich guy getting into a private jet and naming one of the 23 lawmakers the ad is targeting.
"Democrats are on offense again as House Republicans vote this week to protect tax breaks for millionaires instead of strengthening the middle class," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. "Under House Republicans’ top-down economics, millionaires, corporations that outsource jobs, Big Oil and special interests get a $130,000 tax break which we can’t afford. Democrats are holding Republicans accountable for their misplaced priorities and the heat is on House Republicans for putting millionaires and special interests first, and the middle class and seniors last."
Republicans counter that Democrats want to raise taxes on about one million small businesses that are counted among the 2 percent of richest Americans whose tax rates would revert to Clinton-era levels at the end of this year.
All the cuts expire at the start of 2013 if Congress does not act. The Senate already passed the Democratic version of the extension last week, and voted down the GOP plan.
House passage of the Senate legislation would all but guarantee that nearly all of the country sees no hike in their taxes starting New Year's Day, but House leaders insist they want the cuts extended for everyone.
With Congress going on vacation at the end of the week, that would likely leave the issue unresolved until after the elections, and allow both parties to campaign on their vision for taxes.