Schumer stands with Obama on tax extension, drops millionaire limit

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Democrats' message man in the upper chamber, says he supports President Obama's call to increase tax rates on income above $250,000 to restore fairness to the nation's tax code.

"Republicans and Democrats alike agree on the need to extend the tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who make below $250k, so let's heed the President's call and focus on that right away," Schumer said in a statement Monday.

That's a reversal for Schumer, who has advocated a higher income threshold in the past. In December of 2010, he forced a vote on an amendment that would reinstate the Clinton-era tax rates to incomes over $1 million.

"The problem is in my state," Schumer said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing in February, "is there are a lot of people who make above 250 who aren't rich."

He noted that prices for property and other goods as well as taxes are higher in the Empire State than in other parts of the country. Schumer has also said that the lower limit would affect too many small businesses, which often file taxes as individuals.

According to Schumer, the seven-figure border is a better limit, as it requires only millionaires and billionaires to pay higher rates.

A Democratic Senate aide says that while Schumer "still believes" in the higher threshold, he has assured White House officials that he will not offer the $1 million threshold amendment at this time.