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Lawmakers have made one important decision this week as the debt ceiling negotiations come down to the wire: the wealthy should not have to sacrifice even a dime of their tax cuts or loopholes to reduce the deficit.
Both Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner have proposed plans to cut hundreds of billions in spending on government programs (from food safety to college tuition assistance) in order to raise the debt ceiling, without requiring any revenue be generated through ending tax loopholes or tax cuts for the rich.
Boehner’s plan requires an immediate $1.1 trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next 10 years in order to raise the debt ceiling this year, and would also require that we find another $1.8 trillion in cuts in order to raise the debt ceiling again in 2012.
The proposed spending cuts would place a such a harsh additional burden on lower income families that the usually mild mannered Bob Greenstein, Director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, pointed out that Boehner’s plan was “tantamount to a form of ‘class warfare’” and that “it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern US history.”
The new push by both parties for a spending-cuts-only approach stands in great contrast to President Obama’s Monday night address to the nation, which called for a more ‘balanced approach.’
What makes this change in approach even more self defeating is the fact that the anti-tax ideologues have long since lost the public. In fact, well over 19 polls in just the last few months show that the public overwhelmingly favors increasing taxes generally, with larger percentages supporting raising taxes on just the wealthier individuals.
Even after extracting a pound of flesh from Democratic lawmakers, anti-tax forces may still not be satisfied. These groups are pushing for nothing short of passage of the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,’ hoping to hold the US economy hostage to force through their radical and economically disastrous plan.
The ridiculousness of the absolute anti-tax forces has become especially clear in light of their unwillingness to repeal egregious tax loopholes, such those given to oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers, and many others.
Ironically, the purpose of these extreme cuts is to reduce the ongoing budget deficits, but in fact all of the plans under serious consideration by Democratic and Republican leaders would actually INCREASE the deficit. The problem is that lawmakers simply cannot make up for the outrageous $5.4 trillion cost of extending all of the Bush tax cuts.
Though things are not looking good, hopefully Democratic lawmakers will stand up and not let themselves be blackmailed into accepting ludicrous cuts to spending while large loopholes and tax cuts for the rich remain in place.
Photo via The White House Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0