By Ben Wolfgang
U.S. Rep. Tim Holden on Thursday defended his vote earlier in the week to adjourn Congress without passing extensions to tax cuts set to expire Dec. 31.
Meanwhile, Holden's Republican challenger, state Sen. David Argall, literally called out the dogs on the incumbent.
"They came within one vote of overruling Nancy Pelosi. That's what matters - who has the majority of votes on the floor" of the House, Argall, R-29, said at a press conference Thursday morning at the county GOP headquarters in Pottsville.
Congress voted 210-209 on Wednesday to adjourn, with several Blue Dog Democrats voting to stay in session and continue work on a tax cut extension bill. Saying Holden, D-17, is not a true Blue Dog conservative Democrat as the Congressman claims, Argall brought with him to the press conference two "real Blue Dogs," a Kerry blue terrier named Wolfgang and Duke, a bluetick coonhound.
Holden called the event a publicity stunt.
"If those dogs are so good, he (Argall) ought to take them to Harrisburg where we have one of the most dysfunctional and expensive state Legislatures in the country," Holden said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "He's pulling a publicity stunt, and I understand that ... but we have three months until they (the tax cuts) expire. There's plenty of time to get it done, and we'll get it done right and in a fair manner."
If the cuts do expire at the end of the year, nearly everybody would be affected, according to a recent analysis by The Associated Press.
A typical family of four with a household income of $50,000 a year would have to pay $2,900 more in taxes in 2011, according to a new analysis by Deloitte Tax LLP, a tax consulting firm. The same family making $100,000 a year would see its taxes rise by $4,500, according to the AP.
President Barack Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 and joint filers making less than $250,000 in adjusted gross income, a measure Holden said he supports and thinks will pass with broad support.
The only outstanding question, Holden said, is whether the tax cuts will be extended for high-income Americans - individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 a year.
Extensions to those tax rates are still under consideration and Holden said he may support keeping them in effect for another year or two, but is waiting to see details before making a final decision.
He voted to adjourn, he said, because there was no tax cut extension bill to vote on.
"There was no way it was going to get done," Holden added. "They can call us back in (to session) if they have an agreement."
However, Holden said it is more likely Congress will vote on the extensions after the November elections.
Thirty-nine Democrats - including Pennsylvania's U.S. Reps. Jason Altmire and Chris Carney - voted with Republicans to stay in session.
"Doesn't he (Holden) understand that now, in the midst of this terrible, job-killing economy, is the worst possible time to raise federal income taxes?" Argall said in a press release following Thursday's event.
Holden promised Congress will address the issue in the so-called "lame duck" session - the time between an election and when new lawmakers take office in January.