WASHINGTON – Hitting hard on the Bush administration's economic policy, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (search) on Friday lambasted House Republicans, calling them "robber barons" for opposing a child tax credit for poor workers already passed by the Senate.
Pelosi, D-Calif., who opposed the tax cut measure signed into law last month, called the Republican plan irresponsible and chastised the administration following new Labor Department figures showing a 6.1 percent unemployment rate.
"What is the Republican plan? ... A reckless, irresponsible, fiscally unsound, unfair tax cut that benefits those who need it least and does not create jobs. And to make matters worse, in the dark of night, they took out the expansion of the child tax credit leaving behind 12 million children from working and military families," she said.
"Republicans are taking money out of the wallets of everyday Americans," she added.
On Thursday, the Senate passed by near unanimous support a measure to expand the child tax credit to families who make $10,500 to $27,000 as well as to higher income earners.
The decision came shortly after a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (search) that pointed out that about 6.5 million low-income families would be excluded from the child tax credit that was raised from $600 to $1,000 in the $350 billion tax cut package.
According to the bill passed in the Senate Thursday, low-income families can now claim a child tax credit worth 15 percent of their income over $10,500. A full-time worker earning minimum wage makes $10,300 a year.
In July, the Treasury Department is sending advance refunds of $400 per child to about 25 million middle-income families. If the bill is passed and agreed to by both the House and Senate by June 23, the other 6.5 million families could get the refund at the same time as the rest. Those who don't earn enough to take the full $1,000 credit would have to claim the refund when they file their taxes next year.
The compromise allowed Republicans to extend the same benefit to wealthier married couples.
In 2008 and 2009, married couples who make up to $115,000 can claim the full benefit. In 2010, couples who make up to $150,000 can claim the entire credit.
The bill also reduces the five definitions of a "child" used for various tax deductions and credits to a single definition. Customs users fees will provide for the $10 billion in cuts.
But passing it in the House is not expected to come as easily as it did in the Senate, which voted for the bill just hours after an agreement was reached. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, opposed the additional breaks, saying that poor workers have not been left behind by tax cuts.
Conservatives say that low-income workers benefit from the earned income tax credit (EITC), which refunds most income and payroll taxes to families making low wages. EITC has been used as an incentive to keep workers from filing welfare claims.
"Do we want the government to write bigger checks?" said Republican Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma (search), one of the two senators who voted against the bill in the 94-2 vote.
Vowing to make the issue "too hot to handle" for Republicans, Pelosi said Democrats won't "take 'no' for an answer." Earlier in the week, House Democrats held up two bills on the House floor to protest the earlier omission.
House Republicans have said they may consider the bill as well as two or three others.
"You never say never," DeLay said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.