Democrats are seizing on comments by Republican Senate Minority Whip John Kyl on Fox News yesterday suggesting he believes the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 should be extended - and contrasting that position with Republicans' decision to block unemployment insurance extensions for out of work Americans.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is spotlighting Kyl's comments in press releases this afternoon. Check out this quote from one such release, tailored to the Illinois Senate race, from DSCC National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy:
"A top Republican leader in the Senate just telegraphed the Republican playbook: pull out all the stops to help the super wealthy but continue ignoring the middle class. Congressman Mark Kirk should tell Illinois voters if he is going to rubberstamp the out of touch Republican leadership or if he has the courage to help unemployed workers in his state."
Extending the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year, would cost $678 billion over ten years, according to Fox News' Chris Wallace.
Wallace asked Kyl on "Fox News Sunday": "At a time Republicans are saying that they can't extend unemployment benefits unless you pay for them, tell me, how are you going to pay that $678 billion to keep those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy?"
Responded the Arizona senator: "[Y]ou should never raise taxes in order to cut taxes. Surely Congress has the authority, and it would be right to -- if we decide we want to cut taxes to spur the economy, not to have to raise taxes in order to offset those costs. You do need to offset the cost of increased spending, and that's what Republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Tweeted this in response to the comments: "Kyl says wealthy need big Bush tax cuts while middle class families are on their own to fend for themselves as a result of Bush economy."
Hari Sevugan, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, piled on in a comment to Huffington Post: "If all of this has a familiar ring to it, it's because unpaid for tax cuts for the rich at the expense of working people is the same backward policy Republicans used to put the nation in this hole, and it's the same policy they promise to return to if put in a position of power again."