Written with Mark Silva
House Speaker John Boehner and fellow Republicans have maintained from the start that their opposition to tax increases on people earning more than $250,000 involves the impact this could have on small-business owners.
The data show that small-business owners are a small percentage of that top-2 percent of earners whom President Barack Obama wants to tax more, with the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts posing an increase from 35 to 39.6 percent in the top income bracket.
Yet the speaker, who has maintained adamant opposition to increases in anyone’s tax rates, left a window open today when asked if Congress might fashion a way to prevent small businesses from paying more: An exemption for small business owners who file as individuals, people who derive their income from the partnership or Subchapter S corporation formed to run the business.
At a news conference on Capitol Hill today, the speaker was asked if he could “see some way” to accept “a tax-rate increase and protect small businesses at the same time” that might include the top rate “going up to 37 percent or some middle ground” instead of the top rate of 39.6 percent.
Boehner replied: “There are a lot of things that are possible to put the revenue the president seeks on the table. But none of it’s going to be possible if the president insists on his position, insists on my way or the highway,” he said. “That’s not the way to get an agreement” that “is important for the American people and very important for our economy.”
Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, declined to comment on the speaker’s comment.
Negotiations over an agreement to avert that convergence of tax increases and spending cuts slated to take effect at year’s end familiarly known as the fiscal cliff have come down to direct talks between the president and the speaker. Boehner said today that President Barack Obama has “wasted” another week with his insistence on tax increases. Yet all the talk around these talks has pointed to willingness among both sides to consider, in some fashion, the tax increases the president wants and the spending cuts the speaker demands.