By Bill Carey
It's a deadlock that shows no signs of easing.
Republicans say a series of tax cuts, enacted a decade ago and set to expire at year's end, must be extended. Democrats are balking at continued tax breaks for the rich, but say the impasse should not stall an extension for those earning $250,000 or less.
Senator Charles Schumer, touring the North Country, says blocking that extension makes no sense.
Schumer said, "One of the bad things about our last decade is that it's the first decade where the middle class incomes declined. And to give the middle class some more money in their pockets, so they can make ends meet. Even if you have a job, it's harder to pay the bills than it was 10 years ago."
On the campaign trail, democrats say the GOP is making a bad mistake.
"They're holding these tax cuts hostage to tax cuts for the billionaires. The people who are truly so rich that they can afford it. And frankly, another tax cut for them, that's not going to improve the economy anyway," Congressional candidate Dan Maffei said.
Maffei is a former democratic congressman hoping to make a comeback by defeating the republican who ousted him from office in the republican wave of 2010.
Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle is closely allied with the Tea Party wing in the House and says she cannot support any tax increase because she thinks it will slow any economic recovery.
She's not alone. Moderate republican Congressman Richard Hanna also dislikes the current proposal.
"Two hundred and fifty thousand was too low. That doesn't allow small businesses to keep their money in their pocket," Hanna said.
Despite hard lines taken by both sides in this tax cut debate, Hanna, on a tour in Oswego County, says there is still room for compromise.
Some democrats are now willing to discuss extending cuts for those earning a million dollars or less, protecting more small businesses. The congressman says he could even back a number lower than a million. But, he says, something has to give.
Hanna said, "You know, pick a number. Somebody is going to have to pay more. If we don't compromise, if we don't seek out solutions that are somewhat unpalatable and yet palatable to both sides, we will fail."
Hanna thinks there may be enough votes in the House to pull off a deal.