President Obama's campaign will make a renewed push for the extension of middle-class tax cuts, an effort to put Mitt Romney in a difficult position — but one which may also complicate things for congressional Democrats.
Mr. Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for people who make less than $250,000 annually.
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, says that by contrast, he supports the extension of the tax cuts for people who make less than $500,000. Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the state's senior senator, has said that the cuts should be extended for those who make less than $1 million annually.
The tax cuts, passed during President George W. Bush's administration, are set to expire at the end of the year. Republicans, including Mr. Owens' Republican opponent Matt Doheny, want them extended across the board, not just for those who make below a certain income threshold.
"Do I think people who make less than $250,000 deserve to keep the lower taxes?" Mr. Owens said. "Absolutely. They’re going to be the ones who spend the money. The question is, should we do it slightly higher?"
Mr. Owens declined to say whether, if faced with a piece of legislation on his desk that would in effect raise taxes on those who make more than $250,000, he would support the compromise position.
But he did say that letting the tax cuts expire on those who make more than $500,000 — which, again, is a tax hike — wouldn't have a detrimental effect on the economy.
"There’s no evidence that (income tax cuts for the wealthy) help create jobs relative to the job creators," Mr. Owens said, citing booming employment during President Bill Clinton's administration, when the top marginal rate was several percentage points higher.
Much of the discussion — or perhaps all of it — is somewhat academic. Congress is unlikely to confront the legislation in an election year, and Mr. Obama's push is seen through the Nov. 6 prism.
“I sincerely doubt that it would be a piece of legislation coming out of the Republican congress that would” extend the cuts on those who make less than $250,000.
But it could happen during the "lame-duck" session after the election, Mr. Owens said, when great pressure is brought to bear on Congress.