U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) added his voice to that of President Obama on Wednesday in pressuring Republicans to raise taxes on the wealthy few to avert the so-called fiscal cliff that threatens to result in higher taxes for all Americans starting Jan. 1.
In a telephone news conference with Ohio reporters, Mr. Brown excoriated Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) for their refusal so far to agree to extend the Bush-era tax cuts except on incomes above $250,000, an effective tax increase on the wealthiest Americans from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, as proposed by President Obama.
“I find it unconscionable the leadership of the House is threatening to raise taxes on 98 percent of Americans unless the House Republicans get for the wealthiest Americans tax cuts that we couldn’t afford in the first place back in 2001-2003,” Mr. Brown said. He said median family income would decrease about $2,200 in 2013, beginning Jan. 1, if the spending cuts and tax hikes are implemented.
Congress agreed to the fiscal cliff scenario in 2010 in hopes that it would pressure Democrats and Republicans to come up with a less draconian plan for reducing the deficit over 10 years.
The plan would raise taxes at all income levels and impose huge cuts evenly divided between domestic and military spending.
“I of course want to reduce the deficit for future generations, but you don't fix fiscal problems on the backs of seniors, on the backs of working families, and we have to keep a focus on jobs,” Senator Brown said.
Mr. Boehner has offered on behalf of Republicans a package that would raise $800 billion in additional revenue through eliminating exemptions and deductions, but without agreeing to raise the income tax rate on any taxpayers. President Obama has said refusal to boost the top tax rate back up to what it was under President Clinton is not acceptable.
In his newsletter on Tuesday, Mr. Brown portrayed the so-called fiscal cliff as something that could have long-term beneficial consequences. “This sudden dose of austerity will put us on a long-term path to budget stability, but it will also send our nation into a recession for the better part of next year,” Mr. Brown's newsletter stated.
In the news conference call, Mr. Brown said that, if done right, the fiscal cliff and its consequences for higher taxes and a recession would be avoided, while putting the country on a path to fiscal stability.
Among his recommended changes and the potential 10-year savings: Ending taxpayer-funded subsidies for the five biggest oil companies, $20 billion; closing tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas, $19.5 billion; making patented drugs available sooner as generic drugs, $2.3 billion; “streamlining and consolidating existing farm programs,” $20 billion, and ending tax breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers, $23 billion.
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