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Lincoln may seek compromise on Bush tax cuts

October 11, 2010

Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln said Monday she may propose extending the Bush-era tax cuts to wealthier Americans, as well as the middle-class tax cuts that President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Washington want to maintain.

Lincoln, who last week said she may support including those who make as much as $1 million a year in the cuts, said she's researching to see if a compromise is possible on the cuts. Lincoln, a Democrat, is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Washington seeking re-election.

Lincoln sits on the Senate Finance Committee.

"As a part of that tax-writing committee, I think I have a responsibility along with other members of that committee to figure out whether we can find some sort of compromise of what is the best way to meet our objective of strengthening the economy and bringing down our debt and putting people back to work," Lincoln told The Associated Press in an interview.

Obama and Democratic leaders have said that after the November elections, they want to extend tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000. Republicans and a growing number of rank-and-file Democrats want to extend them all — even those for the wealthy — at least temporarily.

Lincoln had floated the idea of a compromise last week during a speech in Little Rock. On Monday, she said she's asked for numbers from the Congressional Budget Office on how much it would cost to offer more in tax cuts. On Friday she said she believed it was reasonable to consider extending the tax cuts to those making between $250,000 and $1 million a year.

Lincoln said her openness to a compromise on the tax cuts shows that she's willing to disagree with the Obama administration and fellow Democrats. Her Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, has criticized Lincoln as too closely allied with the president.

"I can sympathize with those of you all in the media that want to place me in one of these camps, whether I'm for Bush or I'm for Obama, because it makes it easier to check a box," Lincoln said. "But that's not where I am. I'm an independent voice, and I've said all along I don't agree with President Obama's plan and I don't agree with a rubber stamp on a tax policy by President Bush that was adopted nine years ago."

Boozman has said he supports fully extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone. Boozman has said limiting the cuts to the middle class would hurt small businesses. The tax cuts expire at the end of the year. Boozman has accused Lincoln of waffling on the issue of the tax cuts.

Lincoln said extending all of the cuts may be too expensive.

"Clearly, if you just extend all of them, it comes at an enormous cost," Lincoln said.

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