INSIDE WASHINGTON: Much Ado On Hill About Little

A Congressional decision will keep subsidized Stafford loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for one more year.
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"We are wasting time," thundered Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

In the Senate, where costs run about $17 million a week, members are debating a bill that would slice taxes for businesses that hire new workers and buy major new equipment. The House, which has to originate tax bills, has passed a broader business tax cut with no hiring requirements. Neither will be accepted by the other. Both proposals would be paid for by enlarging federal deficits — something neither party wants to answer for on the campaign trail.

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But no sooner than the debate opened, it turned into a proxy over the Bush-era tax cuts and Obama's proposal to let them expire for the wealthiest Americans. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the Finance Committee's senior Republican, took the floor immediately to say he would offer an amendment extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, including Americans who earn more than $250,000 a year.

"I think it is a good idea to talk about taxes this week," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

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Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ An occasional look at how Washington works behind the scenes.

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