WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown, the lone Republican in the Massachusetts delegation, voted against both the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ plans to extend income tax cuts for Americans on Wednesday, contending that the two parties should instead be working on long-range tax and spending overhauls.
Brown, who faces a tough reelection battle against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, was joined by Maine Republican Susan Collins in voting against the GOP bill, which would have extended the cuts for all taxpayers. That legislation failed. Brown also said he voted against that bill because it ended tax credits for education.
The Democrats’ bill, which allow tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans to expire but would keep in place cuts for those making less than $250,000 annually, barely garnered enough votes for passage, 51-48, but Republicans who control the House vehemently oppose it. Both votes were considered political theater to stake out tax positions before the fall elections.
Warren seized on Brown’s vote against the Democratic proposal, calling it insensitive to working families.
“Scott Brown’s got it all wrong — again — voting to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage so he could protect tax breaks for billionaires,” Warren said in a statement. “Now was the time to stand with working families in Massachusetts, but Scott Brown said ‘no.’ ”
Brown’s reelection campaign released a statement that called on both Democrats and Republicans to instead work on tax and spending reforms that keep rates low, promote job growth, and lower the growth in the federal deficit.
Brown said it was “not the time to raise taxes on anyone — not on low-income individuals and families, not on the middle class, and not on the small businesses struggling to grow and create the jobs necessary to drive economic recovery, especially as we teeter on the verge of a double-dip recession.”
Marcie Kinzel, Brown’s spokeswoman in Washington, said the senator did not support the GOP alternative sponsored by Orrin Hatch of Utah “because it did not extend certain tax cuts for low-income Americans,” referring, she said, to tax credits for education and children that other Republicans were willing to allow to lapse.
The tax cuts, enacted under President George W. Bush, will automatically expire at the end of the year if Congress does not take action.
The Senate victory for Democrats was made possible by a straight up-or-down vote after Republicans waived their right to filibuster.
“It is truly unconscionable for Scott Brown to vote with the extreme Republicans in Congress, continuing tax breaks for multimillionaires while ignoring the millions of hard working Massachusetts families struggling from paycheck to paycheck,” said Steven A. Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
Afterward, congressional Democrats quickly piled pressure on Speaker John Boehner and other House Republicans.
“This is a watershed moment in the tax cut rift. . . . Put the middle class first, Mr. Boehner,” Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said during a press conference outside the Senate floor.
Senator John Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts, hailed the vote as a victory for working families.
“Many working families in Massachusetts are hanging on by their fingertips and an increase in taxes would have pushed them over the edge,” Kerry said. “Making sure their taxes don’t go up while they’re trying to pay their bills, put food on the table, and send their kids to college is common sense and good economics.
“Balancing the budget on the backs of middle class families who bore the brunt of the economic collapse would be adding insult to injury.”
He said the measure would protect 2.5 million Massachusetts families from tax increases, averaging about $1,600.
Warren’s new ad shows off consumer protection effort
Democrat Elizabeth Warren is touting her work setting up a consumer protection agency in a new ad for her US Senate campaign.
In the radio spot, Warren says that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently required credit card giant Capitol One to pay $210 million in refunds and fines for deceptive practices.
“We need a cop on the beat to make sure no one steals your purse on Main Street and no one steals your pension on Wall Street,” Warren says in the ad.
It is already running statewide.
The agency was created in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory act.
President Obama appointed Warren to set up the agency but named her top deputy to run it last year after Republicans threatened to filibuster any confirmation vote amid complaints about the agency’s structure.
Warren returned home to Massachusetts and soon afterward announced her candidacy against Senator Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent.