We have embarked upon a debate over how to handle the looming prospect of George W. Bush's cuts to marginal tax rates being sunsetted as of December 31, 2010. This debate, like all debates, has two opposed arguments. There is the Democratic Party's argument that goes unarticulated, and there is the Republican Party's argument that is made up from whole cloth and designed to deceive.
The Democratic argument, despite its dearth of publicity, is straightforward and easily explained. The Bush tax cuts are due to expire at the end of the year. Democrats wish to extend the tax cuts for Americans earning less than $250,000 per year. That would be 98% of American workers keeping that tax cut.
The Republican argument is somewhat more complex, as in, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." I'll try to break it down, though.
Republican Claim #1: Any tax cuts that are not extended constitute an Obama tax increase. Actually, any tax cuts that are lost will be because Bush Republicans voted to allow it to happen. These tax cuts, that they don't think they have to pay for, were originally passed by what they have so recently maligned in the Senate by using the budget reconciliation rule. Since the bill was scored as a drain on the Treasury, it was, according to the rule, subject to a ten year sunset provision. That means that the tax breaks ending are an integral part of this Republican bill, so any "tax increase", if it must be labeled as such, would be a Republican tax increase.