At a press conference in the Capitol today, Senate Democrats continued to make their push to raise income taxes on individuals, as well as small businesses that file with the IRS as individuals, earning more than $250,000 per year. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid couldn't explain why he didn't pass this bill in 2009 or 2010 when Democrats had huge majorities in the House and Senate and could have actually sent it to President Obama to sign into law.
TWS: Leader Reid, when it comes to the Bush tax cuts...why didn't Senate Democrats push through this bill back when you controlled the Senate, the House, and the presidency?
REID: The tax cuts weren't about to expire then. So that's why we're doing it now.
TWS: You could have foreseen this issue two years ago.
REPORTER: What are you talking about? They expired at the end of 2010.
REID: And that's why they were extended one year.
TWS: Why didn't they vote when you could have pushed this bill through and had it signed into law?
REID: Next question.
Update: Here's the video of the exchange (courtesy of NRO):
Following the press conference, THE WEEKLY STANDARD posed the same question to Democratic senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Schumer dismissed it as a "silly question" because the tax rates are "expiring now." But when another reporter pressed him to explain why Democrats agreed in 2010 to extend all current tax rates, Schumer said it was important then to keep tax rates the same to stimulate the economy.
QUESTION: Two years ago, the polls ... supported raising taxes on the wealthy and you guys didn't do it. You wound up making a compromise. What's different now?
SCHUMER: Well, some of us, ah, the difference is the president believed he needed the tax issue to get some stimulation into the economy because the economy was flat.
In 2010, President Obama explained his opposition to raising taxes, saying, "I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy best. And what they will say is that if you either increased taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a destimulative effect and potentially you'd see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off."
A reporter asked Schumer today: "And does the economy not need that [stimulus] now though? We're still kind of in a sluggish economy."
"Listen, we've been trying," Schumer replied. "You heard my questioning with Bernanke. I believe that we have to stimulate the economy. Chairman Bernanke would prefer that that be done on the fiscal side. But we're gridlocked on the fiscal side. When we proposed tax cuts for small business that they have always supported and they vote no, you know that the only hope is whatever effect monetary policy can have."