BY GLENN SOMERVILLE
AND KEVIN DRAWBAUGH
WASHINGTON - Top Republican and Democratic officials skirmished Sunday over the timing of a vote on extending tax cuts, seeking an edge ahead of November congressional elections likely to be dominated by job anxiety.
After Democratic leaders in the House left open the possibility a vote would be delayed past the Nov. 2 midterm elections, Republicans shot back, saying that doing so would only add to voters' economic uncertainty.
"The Congress has an opportunity this week to end some of the uncertainty by allowing the American people to know what the tax rates are going to be at the end of the year," House Minority leader John Boehner said on "Fox News Sunday."
"To adjourn without dealing with this means that in their minds the elections are more important than jobs for the American people," the Ohio Republican said.
But the Obama administration is determined to get middle-class Americans' reduced tax rates extended, regardless whether the issue comes before Congress before or after Election Day, said David Axelrod, a senior White House adviser.
"One way or the other, we're going to get it done," Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week."
All the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 under the Bush administration are due to expire on Dec. 31. Democrats want to extend the lower rates for individuals making up to $200,000 and up to $250,000 for couples, but not for the estimated 2 percent who make more than that.
Republicans, and a few Democrats, say the tax reductions for high-income individuals should also be extended because raising taxes in an atmosphere of stubbornly high unemployment and slow growth risks further slowing recovery.
Also on "This Week," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested Democrats were unwilling to have an early vote because they know the prospect of tax hikes for any Americans angers voters.
Axelrod charged that Republicans were trying to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage by insisting that the wealthiest Americans should also see tax cut extensions. "We're saying we can't afford that, not in our fiscal condition," he said on ABC.