October 31, 2014

Nelson, Johanns view president’s tax plan through different lenses

Sen. Nelson meets with constituents/Senator’s office photo

Nebraska’s two United States Senators have very different views of President Obama’s proposal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for taxpayers who make less than $250,000 a year.

Sen. Ben Nelson is pleased the president, a fellow Democrat, has made the proposal.

“I want to commend the president for starting the discussion at this present time, months before the extensions expire.” Nelson told Nebraska reporters in a conference call this week.

Less impressed is Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican, who believes the timing has less to do with when the tax cuts expire and more to do with when people go to the polls to vote.

Sen. Johanns/Senator’s office photo

“He knows what he’s doing. He’s just trying to score political points. It’s an election year,” Johanns stated during his conference call with Nebraska reporters this morning.

The two do agree that it will be difficult for Congress to reach agreement on a proposal during the heart of the presidential campaign. While Obama has proposed the extension with a cap, Republican Mitt Romney has favored all the tax cuts approved during President Bush’s term without a cap.

Nelson actually agrees with that approach. Nelson told reporters that he would prefer that all the tax cuts be extended to help an economy struggling to gain its footing. If a complete extension cannot gain the needed votes, Nelson suggested that a $1 million threshold might be more appropriate.

“If there’s a compromise that’s necessary in order to get something accomplished, I believe the threshold isn’t $250,000, I think it’s closer to $1 million and I’ve supported that in the past,” Nelson stated.

Johanns said it will be tough for Congress to reach an agreement.

“We’re going to need a bipartisan approach to get it done. We’re going to need presidential leadership,” Johanns said. “Unfortunately, if we don’t have the presidential leadership, these things just tend to divide people more.”

If nothing gets accomplished now, the tax cut issue could join a range of issues that seem to be stacking up for Congress to tackle in its lame-duck session after the November elections.