Democratic tax-cut bill passes Senate, future uncertain in House
The US Senate Wednesday night defeated a Republican tax plan and approved a Democratic one, called the Middle Class Tax Relief Bill, in a vote of 51 to 48. The competing Democratic and Republican plans were to extend a variety of tax cuts set to expire in January. The Democratic bill would continue tax cuts through 2013 for everyone but individuals earning more than $200,000 annually and couples making more than $250,000. The Republican bill would extend more tax breaks to the highest earners.
Passage of some sort of tax bill is seen as crucial to a still-struggling US economy, according to economists. The bill now moves on to the Republican-controlled House. There, Republicans are set to move a separate bill that would extend essentially all Bush-era tax cuts.
In a statement, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said: “Over the past four years, federal taxes have been cut for middle-class families and small businesses all over America. Congress has approved and President Obama has signed into law 18 tax cuts for small businesses, and a payroll tax cut for all American workers and their families, putting an extra $1000 each year in the typical Vermont family’s pocket. That is why I proudly supported the Democratic bill that ensures the typical middle-class family of four will not see their taxes raised by $2,200 next year.
“Yet while hardworking Vermont families and small businesses struggle to make ends meet in a difficult economy, fairness in our tax code has continued to erode, benefitting the wealthiest 1 percent at the expense of the rest of the country. Over the past decade, multi-millionaires have benefited the most from the Bush-era tax cuts that I opposed. Today a large proportion of millionaires pay a smaller percentage of their income than do a large share of America’s working families. Even more troubling, the Bush economic policies did not trickle down to help those most in need – especially during the recent downturn in our economy. Unfortunately this Republican plan offered nothing but more of the same, which is why I opposed it.
“As we continue grappling with large budget deficits worsened by the Bush tax cuts and two overseas wars that were not paid for, it just makes sense that those hurting the most should be offered a helping hand, and those who have benefitted the most should shoulder a fairer share of the burden. We must have more balance in our tax system.”
The roll call vote was Senator Patrick Leahy’s 14,000th in the US Senate, more than have been cast by all but six other senators in its history. The number of votes Leahy has cast surpasses those logged by any other sitting senator except for Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who joined the Senate in 1963. Leahy joined the Senate in 1975.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also voted with the majority. In a statement he said: “With a $16 trillion national debt and a $1 trillion deficit, we cannot continue to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. This is a step forward in ending the Bush-era tax breaks for the rich and asking the wealthiest Americans, who are doing phenomenally well, to do their fair share to bring down deficits. I hope our Republican friends in the House can overcome their support for tax breaks for the wealthy and support this common-sense approach to cutting deficits.”
WEDNESDAY, July 25, 2012