Republicans Stand Firm on Keeping Bush Tax Cuts

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WASHINGTON - All 42 Senate Republicans said Wednesday they will block any routine legislation until the Senate votes to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts.

The House is expected to debate and vote on renewing the tax cuts Thursday.

Intense negotiations have started between lawmakers and the Obama administration over the main roadblock -- extending tax cuts to Americans making more than $250,000.

President Barack Obama argues that tax cuts for the wealthy only hurt the economy.

"This would add an additional $700 billion to our debt in the next 10 years," he said.

But Republicans say keeping tax cuts for higher earning Americans will help small business owners and save jobs.

"One hundred percent of Republicans and a reasonable number of Democrats who believe that we shouldn't be raising taxes on anybody," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Stopping all the looming tax hikes and cutting spending would in fact create jobs and get the economy moving again," added Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Meanwhile, the president's bipartisan deficit commission met Wednesday to debate a plan that slashes the federal debt through a combination of reduced spending and tax hikes. Few support the plan.

The proposal reduces Social Security benefits, freezes federal pay, makes deep cuts to the defense budget and eliminates popular tax deductions.

But with a national debt of $13.8 trillion, the economic health of the nation is on the line.

"If we don't address this, we face the most predictable economic crisis in history," warned Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the deficit commission. "So we can either wake up and smell the coffee or we can wait to watch it happen."

Almost all of the commission's proposals will meet strong opposition in Congress and by lobbying groups.

The commission will vote Friday on whether or not to approve the deficit-cutting plan and send the proposal to Congress.

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.