AP image of the U.S. Capitol
(USA TODAY) - As President Obama prepares to meet with congressional Democrats on legislative strategy, the Senate's top Republican is trying to beat him to the punch on tax cuts.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called today for immediate votes today on competing proposals: The Republican plan to extend all the George W. Bush tax cuts, and Obama's plan to extend them only for people who make less than $250,000 annually.
"The Senate should make itself clear which policy it supports," McConnell said. "This is our chance to do it."
The Senate's Democratic majority objected; some Senate Democrats have expressed skepticism over Obama's plan.
Those differences, and the way to move forward, are among the topics to be discussed by Obama and Democratic Senate and House leaders later today at the White House.
For his part, Obama is calling on Congress to vote on the middle class tax cuts now, and debate the high-end ones later.
"I want to hold taxes steady for 98 percent of Americans," Obama said Tuesday in Iowa. "Republicans say they want to do the same thing. We disagree on the other 2 percent. Well, what do you usually do if you agree on 98 percent and you disagree on 2 percent?"
Added Obama: "Go ahead and do the 98 percent, and we can keep arguing about the 2 percent. Let's agree when we can agree."
McConnell, who has proposed a one-year extension of all the tax cuts while Congress takes up an overhaul of the entire tax code, described the dispute differently:
"One on the President's proposal to raise taxes on nearly one million business owners in the middle of the worst economic recovery in modern times, and one that would extend current income tax rates for one year and task the Finance Committee to produce a bill that would enact fundamental, pro-growth tax reform."