Senate Republicans this week are unveiling a bill that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for the richest Americans at the end of the year, while allowing more recently instituted breaks for the working poor and middle class to expire. Republicans says those cuts, included in President Obama's 2009 stimulus, were always intended to be temporary. But Democrats are attacking the GOP plan, written by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), saying it protects the wealthiest 2 percent while hurting the people who are suffering the most in the sour economy. Is the GOP putting the interests of the rich first over those of the middle class?

The GOP is fine with tax hikes, provided they spare the rich: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says his party doesn't want to "raise anybody's taxes" in this difficult year, says the Center for American Progress in an editorial. "Strange, then," that Senate Republicans are advancing a plan that "would raise taxes on millions of families." The GOP plan would hike taxes on 20 million families, about 10 times as many as the Democratic proposal, which would end breaks only for those making more than $250,000.
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This is just political horse trading: "Despite the high-wattage political theater over taxes," says Alan Fram of The Associated Press, "there's a lot of consensus between the two parties" over the need to avoid tax hikes that could upset the economic recovery. Republicans firmly believe Obama's effort to end Bush-era breaks for the wealthy will hurt job creation. The GOP plan has no prayer of clearing the Senate; the Democrats' plan is DOA in the House. So how about a compromise? Otherwise all of the cuts expire and we will all pay more.
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It is unfair to end the poor's breaks first: "Even liberals would concede that a 'temporary' tax break for poor families hit hard by the downturn has to end sometime," says Jon Healey at the Los Angeles Times. Republicans say the Bush-era cuts were intended to be permanent, but the fact is they have an expiration date just like Obama's college- and child-tax credits for working families. Just about everyone is getting temporary breaks these days, "and it's hard to see why poor families should be first in line to lose theirs."
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