BOSTON (AP) -- Both candidates in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts say their policies would lower taxes for the middle class while contending that their opponents’ policies would raise taxes on average Americans. The conflicting arguments mirror a national debate over the role taxes should play in lowering the federal budget deficit and strengthening the economy.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, agree that the so-called Bush-era tax cuts that expire on Dec. 31 should be extended for middle-income taxpayers. But their stands diverge sharply from there.
Warren, like President Barack Obama and other Democrats, wants the cuts to expire only for families with annual incomes of $250,000 or more. For that group of wealthier taxpayers she would also support a return to the Clinton-era tax rate of 20 percent for capital gains and treating dividends as ordinary income.
Brown, like most in his party including GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is adamant that the Bush-era cuts be extended for Americans in all tax brackets, including the highest ones. He would make no change in rates on capital gains and dividends.
Asked in a radio interview last month whether he would consider voting for a bill that would extend the cuts for the estimated 98 percent of taxpayers who earn below $250,000, but not for those above, Brown replied: "Crystal clear. No."
Warren said Brown’s stance essentially holds middle-income taxpayers "hostage" and would all but guarantee they are hit with a tax hike in 2013.
"Sen. Brown supports the Republicans when they say tax cuts for those at the very top, and then let everyone else pick up the pieces," the Democrat said at a recent campaign stop.