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Boehner Blinks on Bush Tax Cuts?

Speaking on Face the Nation on Sunday, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House minority leader, said he would vote for the Obama administration’s proposal to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans and to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent — if the only other choice was not reaching a deal and letting all of the cuts expire:

“If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I’ll vote for them,’’ Boehner said in response to questioning by the program’s host, Bob Schieffer, who pointedly asked whether Republicans were willing to hold the tax breaks for most Americans “hostage’’ to insist on continuing the lower rates for the highest earners.

Republicans want all of the tax cuts made permanent and seem likely to vote for a two-year extension of the tax cuts for everybody. The White House wants the tax cuts to end for families making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $200,000 — about 2 percent of Americans. Congressional Democrats fall in between, with some wanting the tax cuts extended for all but with most going along with the White House’s plan.

The risk is that a standoff over whether to increase taxes for nobody or a wealthy few will lead to Congressional deadlock: If Congress does not act, taxes increase for everyone, an ugly result, economically. And, unfortunately, in the Senate, individual politicians have demonstrated a willingness to hold up important compromise legislation in fits of pique.

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