Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is clear on the first step to avoiding the fiscal cliff — extend tax cuts for the middle class which would help nearly all Ohio taxpayers.
On Wednesday, Brown called on House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote as soon as possible on the Middle Class Tax Cut Act — legislation which already passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote in July and that would extend middle class tax cuts for the 99 percent of Ohio families making less than $250,000 per year.
The legislation also extends other tax provisions critical to the middle class — the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit — that help families afford college, cover their bills and provide for
“You don’t fix fiscal problems on the back of seniors, you don’t fix fiscal problems on the back of working families and we have to keep a focus on jobs,” Brown said as the fiscal cliff would increase taxes on all Americans and make cuts to programs across the board, which starts Jan. 1. “When it comes balancing the budget, I have been there and I have co-sponsored three balanced budget amendments while serving in the House.”
In an earlier story, Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he opposes raising taxes, but he does not want to raise them on any Americans since maintaining lower income taxes would likely create more jobs and spur the economy.
He said he wants to avoid the fiscal cliff and would like to do so by passing a temporary spending bill and then reform the tax code, regulations and entitlement programs.
During Wednesday’s media teleconference, Brown cited the income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans were higher under President Bill Clinton, which is when the economy was bullish and the United States used the money to pay off its debt and created a surplus. This disappeared under President George Bush.
The tax cut bill supported by Brown would cut the deficit by more than $800 billion by requiring millionaires and billionaires to contribute a fair share.
“I find it unconscionable the leader of the House is threatening to raise taxes on 98 percent of Americans unless House Republicans get for the wealthiest Americans tax cuts we couldn’t afford in the first place back in 2001 and 2003,” Brown said. “Much of our budget problems date from those two tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and it is unacceptable that inaction here would force median-income Ohio family to have their taxes increase by $2,200 by the end of next year.”
If Congress fails to act, Brown noted middle class Americans will likely be forced to cut their spending in other areas which will reduce the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) by 1 1/2 points.
“It’s critical that we prevent the economy from falling back into a recession,” Brown said. “By extending tax cuts for all but the top 1 percent of Ohioans, we will ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share while still investing in critical federal efforts that create jobs and promote economic development. After all, the budget deficit is also a jobs challenge — there are millions of unemployed Americans who would rather be paying taxes than collecting unemployment insurance.”
He said the bill would ask the 1 or 2 percent of Americans who make in excess of $250,000 to pay an amount that they paid in taxes during the Clinton years. Today, the wealthiest Americans pay income tax at a 35 percent rate compared to 39.6 percent they paid during the Clinton terms.
Brown explained they would still realize a tax cut on the first $250,000, and they would only pay a higher rate on the amount that exceeds that amount.
The Congressman blamed the current federal fiscal problem on the Bush tax cuts, which cost the federal budget $6.3 trillion in lost revenues because they were not offset by any new form of revenue. He also blamed the $16 trillon debt on two wars, which there was no plans developed on how to pay for them. He also said there was a giveaway to drug companies.
“We must pursue a balanced approach to reduce our deficit that builds on the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years that we’ve already made in one bill alone,” Brown said. “Most Ohioans believe that we should reduce the deficit by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay the same tax rates they did during the Clinton years, when we added 21 million jobs.
“The House of Representatives should vote on the Senate-passed bill that would prevent taxes from increasing for 99 percent of Ohioans,” he said. “It’s time for Speaker Boehner to stop holding hostage tax cuts for 99 percent of Ohioans.”