Moderate House Democrats Push for Vote on Extending All Bush Tax Cuts

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Barack Obama and the economic stimulus package
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Four House Democrats started circulating a draft letter among moderate Democrats today asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote that would extend all of the Bush tax cuts for one year.

"We urge you to consider legislation to extend all of the income tax cuts," the letter to Pelosi reads. "In recent weeks, we have heard from a diverse spectrum of economists, small business owners, and families who have voiced concerns that raising any taxes right now could negatively impact economic growth. Given the continued fragility of our economy and slow pace of recovery, we share their concerns."

The letter, drafted by Reps. James Matheson (D-Utah), Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), Glenn Nye (D-Va.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is part of an effort by moderate Democrats to find some sort of compromise on extending the tax cuts with more liberal Democrats who say that the country cannot afford to extend taxes for the wealthy in the middle of a recession.

President Obama and Pelosi's positions on the Bush tax cuts have remained that the tax breaks should only be extended for families making under $250,000 per year and individuals making less than $200,000. That's despite the fact that the economy still shows little sign of improvement and that many of the Democrats' most vulnerable members this November oppose any tax increases. One Pelosi aide said it would be up to those members to make up their own mind on this vote.

Republicans also tried to change the debate, or get back to their original messaging on taxes, just one day after House Minority Leader John Boehner told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" that "If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for it."

One Boehner aide said that the minority leader is not saying he will vote for a package that extends only some of the tax cuts. First, the aide said, they will try to force an up-or-down vote on a package that would extend all of the tax cuts.

House minority whip Eric Cantor also weighed in, saying in a statement that "despite the clear efforts by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to increase taxes on hard working Americans, there is ample evidence that a bipartisan majority of the House would support a clean bill to ensure that no American faces a tax increase in this difficult economic environment. I am calling on Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House - Republican and Democrat - to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American."

For all the drama going on in the House on the issue, a Pelosi aide said that the real problem remains in the Senate where Republicans would not vote for a bill that allowed some of the Bush tax cuts to expire. Four Democrats and one independent in the Senate have also voiced concerns about allowing anyone's taxes to increase -- meaning the 60 votes needed to move the legislation might not even be there.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill today on the Senate floor that would stop any tax increases, saying that the Democrats' spending policies had already done enough damage. "Now they want to drive another nail in the coffin," he said. "A massive tax hike on the very people who will dig us out of this recession by expanding their businesses and creating jobs."

It is unclear yet whether the House or Senate will take up the legislation first, but Democratic aides in both the House and Senate said that they hope to bring up a bill sometime in the next four weeks.

More coverage:

John Boehner's Brilliant Maneuver
Mitch McConnell Stands Firm: No Partial Bush Tax Cut Extension
White House Hopes Boehner Serious About Tax Cuts
Boehner: I'll Drop Tax Cut for Rich If I Have To
Geithner Welcomes GOP Support for Tax Plan
White House: No Veto Will be Needed Over Bush Tax Cuts
Obama: GOP Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts "Hostage"


Jill Jackson is a CBS News senior political producer. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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    Jill Jackson is a CBS News senior political producer.

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