Discharge petition for extending tax cuts draws 178 Democrats

Former budget director Peter Orszag Former budget director Peter Orszag J. Scott Applewhite/AP

As the drama continues over the looming fiscal cliff, House Democrats have made headway in their parliamentary tactic of forcing a House vote on a bill to extend tax cuts to all but the wealthiest Americans. Separately, on Thursday, the former Obama administration budget director endorsed a two-year limit on the current Democratic plan to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class.

As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi vowed earlier in the week, Democrats acting through Rep. Timothy Walz, D-Minn., on Tuesday introduced the rarely used tool of a discharge petition. If 218 members sign on, then a bill stuck in committee must come to a floor vote.

As of Thursday morning, 178 Democrats had signed the petition to require the Ways and Means committees to report out the Middle-Class Tax Cut Act (H.R. 15), introduced in July by ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., after a similar bill passed the Senate. The Democratic caucus is currently at 191.

No Republicans have signed on, though Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., told The Hill that he is flirting with signing the petition next week if talks between the White House and congressional leaders appear stalled.

Despite their desire to protect the middle and working classes from tax hikes, Democrats should not rule out letting the 2001 and 2003 cuts expire for those groups after two years if additional revenues are needed, according to Citigroup vice president Peter Orszag, Obama’s first budget director who previously led the Congressional Budget Office.

On a Thursday conference call with reporters staged by the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Orszag affirmed that he agreed with center head Robert Greenstein that deficit reduction needs should prompt a two-year limit on Obama’s plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. “I have concerns about affordability,” Greenstein said.

Both commentators criticized current Republican proposals to avoid raising tax rates on those earning $250,000 or more by relying instead on revenue that might be gained by reforming the tax code to eliminate some popular deductions or capping each taxpayer’s overall use of deductions.

One reason such proposals are “artificially attractive is their vagueness,” Orszag said. “No one knows which deductions get scaled back,” preventing critics from “attacking the provisions directly. It’s misleading.”

Greenstein says capping deductions “should be a supplement, rather than a substitute” for raising tax rates on the upper-income groups and could be part of much-needed longer-term reforms. His group favors converting many deductions to credits, which spreads their benefits across the tax brackets.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.