WASHINGTON: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Monday the administration is encouraged to hear Republicans say they would support President Barack Obama's plan to extend tax cuts to the middle class.
Geithner said in a speech that the administration would welcome the GOP votes. The Obama administration has proposed extending the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class. But it would let the tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers expire at the end of this year.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday that he would vote for Obama's tax plan if that were the only option available to House Republicans.
Geithner took note of those comments in a speech Monday to a conference sponsored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
''We welcome recent indications that Republicans won't hold middle-class tax cuts hostage,'' Geithner said.
Geithner called on Congress to move quickly to extend the tax cuts. That debate is expected to be a key focus this month before Congress adjourns to campaign for the Nov. 2 elections. Republicans have made high unemployment and the Democrats' handling of the economy a major campaign theme.
Geithner and the administration have tried to make the case that conditions would have been worse without Obama's economic policies, including the $814 billion stimulus package. Geithner said that a return to Republican policies would put the economic recovery in jeopardy.
''We can't afford to go back to the policies of the past decade when we passed large tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans without paying for them and saw little impact on job creation and years of stagnation in middle class wages,'' he said.
Republicans say the level of spending undertaken by the Obama administration has done little to boost the economy. Instead, it has increased the deficit to unsustainable levels, they say.