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Published: Saturday, 12/8/2012

Group calls on Republicans to ‘get with the program,' vote to raise taxes on wealthy


Saying that the public agreed with President Obama on the issue of the rich paying higher taxes, a group of people — some of them recently involved in the President’s re-election campaign — met in front of the Toledo office of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) Friday to call on him to vote to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Members of a newly formed progressive group called “The Ohio Action Coalition," the 13 people said Republican lawmakers should respect the choice the public made when they re-elected Mr. Obama on Nov. 6.

“As we’re struggling to overcome the fiscal cliff, we’re calling on Republicans to get with the program and get with what the majority of Americans believe,” said Democratic Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara, a possible 2013 candidate for mayor.

During the campaign and since then, President Obama has proposed a deficit reduction plan that includes an increase in the tax rates charged on family incomes above $250,000 from 35 percent now to 39.6 percent.

Democratic Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said, “We’re just talking about a return to the tax rates we used to have in this country under President Clinton when the economy was growing.”

President Obama has demanded that Republicans agree to the higher rate for top earners as part of a deficit-reduction agreement that would avoid the so-called fiscal cliff on Jan. 1. That’s when automatic legislation would take effect repealing all the tax cuts from 2001-03 and instituting cuts in military and domestic budgets.

Mr. Portman was not in the Toledo office at 420 Madison Ave. when the news conference was held outside the building. Portman spokesman Caitlin Dunn said that President Obama proposed the same size tax increase, about $1.6 trillion, in his budget last year but that it did not receive a single vote in Congress.

She said Mr. Portman supports addressing what he believes are the root causes of the slow economy — “an inefficient tax code and important but unsustaintable entitlement programs.”

Mr. McNamara said the reason that only the top tax rates should be restored to their 1990s level is that the wealthy benefited disproportionately from the tax cuts. He cited a study by the liberal organization Innovation Ohio, which found that more than 73 percent of all the value from the Bush tax cuts went to households making more than $200,000 a year, and that the top 1 percent of earners now control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.

Miss Dunn disagreed that the Bush tax cuts favor the wealthy unfairly. In fact, she said, they made the tax code “more progressive.”

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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