By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, April 19 The Republican-controlled
U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a tax break for
small businesses, giving voters a stark alternative to President
Barack Obama's politically popular "Buffett Rule" surtax on the
In an escalating election-year war of words over taxes, the
Republican measure, like the Buffett Rule, is not expected to
become law. It is opposed by Democrats, who control the Senate,
where the bill was expected to die.
The legislation, pushed by House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor, would give a 20-percent tax deduction to employers with
500 or fewer workers, a move that Republicans say is important
for job creation and economic growth.
It was approved on a mostly partisan 235-173 vote.
Democrats blasted the bill because it does not limit
benefits based on receipts, allowing law firms, hedge funds and
other high-income businesses to benefit.
"This isn't about mom and pop ... It's about popping the
cork for wealthy taxpayers," Representative Sandy Levin, the top
Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said
in floor debate.
Cantor responded that the bill used the government's own
definition of small business.
"This week when every American filed their tax returns, the
other party in the Senate voted to increase taxes," Cantor said.
"We should not be taking money out of those we need to create
With both parties eyeing the Nov. 6 presidential and
congressional elections, Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a
measure that would have imposed a 30 percent minimum tax on
households that earn more than $1 million a year.
It was championed by Obama and multibillionaire Warren
Buffett who said it was needed to help make the rich pay a
fairer share of taxes. Republicans said the Buffett Rule tax
would have hurt small business.
Cantor's one-year tax cut would cost taxpayers about $46
billion. Democrats seized on the cost, noting it would add to
already huge budget deficits that have rattled global financial
Individual employers making more than $1 million get the
biggest break under the bill, an average $45,000 cut, according
to the centrist Tax Policy Center.
Senate Democrats are offering their own bill aimed at small
business, which includes an employer hiring credit and a tax
break on capital investments known as bonus depreciation.