House Democrats Wobbling on Raising Top Tax Rate to 39.6%

House Democrats Wobbling on Raising Top Tax Rate to 39.6%

On Thursday, House Democrats refused to take a firm stance on how much they wanted to raise the top tax rate.

President Barack Obama and Democrats have insisted they would not commit to any agreement that does not let the Bush tax cuts expire for those making more than $250,000 and extend the top tax rate from 35% to 39.6%. The House Democrats seem less insistent on those demands. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she “would like” the top tax rate to increase from 35 to 39.6 percent, but also suggested that Democrats may be willing to back lower rates for the wealthy if they could find alternative sources of revenue.

“I’m fairly agnostic about certain things. I just want to have something that is fair and that will work,” Pelosi said Thursday, according to The Hill. “What is it that produces growth? Let’s put that on the table.”

Rep. John Larson (D-CT), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, also refused to say would draw a red line for what the top tax rate should be. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), the newly elected chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, said it does not “behoove any side to be drawing any lines or taking anything off the table.”

During his press conference on Wednesday, Obama said was was not as “concerned about red lines” on specific rates than with raising revenues and said he was not “going to slam the door” on alternative ideas to reduce the deficit. 

“I want to hear ideas from everyone,” he said.

Democrats and Republicans will meet with Obama at the White House on Friday to open fiscal cliff negotiations. Despite the claims by Obama and Democrats that Obama has a mandate to raise taxes after his victory over Mitt Romney, the willingness of Obama and House Democrats to negotiate on the top tax rate reveals their realization of how unpopular raising taxes is with the American people, especially when the economy is slumping.