Thirty-two House progressives have sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her not to allow a vote on extending President Bush’s high-income tax cuts.
“[W]e respectfully urge you to bring to the floor, before Congress adjourns in October, a vote on President Obama’s recently proposed tax plan: permanent tax cuts for the middle-class while allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, using any additional revenue to close our budget deficit,” the letter reads.
The effort was organized by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, along with Reps. Mary Jo Kilroy and Alan Grayson.
Though far, far more than 32 House Dems support President Obama’s proposal, the difficulty they face is that many of their caucus-mates support extending tax cuts to the wealthy. Enough, perhaps, to tip the balance to the Republicans’ favor. We’re keeping close tabs on that bloc, as they’re likely the key to whether Obama and Pelosi win or lose this fight.
You can read the entire letter, and list of signatories, below.
Dear Madam Speaker:
Last decade, President Bush rammed through Congress a multi-billion dollar give-away for the wealthiest Americans on the backs of our nation’s middle-class. In the process, the aforementioned Bush tax cuts eviscerated an unprecedented budget surplus and weakened our nation’s fiscal health. As the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, we respectfully urge you to bring to the floor, before Congress adjourns in October, a vote on President Obama’s recently proposed tax plan: permanent tax cuts for the middle-class while allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, using any additional revenue to close our budget deficit.
We must show the American people that our Democratic Majority stands for them — people who have worked hard, played by the rules and depend on these tax breaks to make ends meet. We also need to get serious about cutting our budget deficit by allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire.
Some have argued that the Bush tax cuts help to stimulate the economy, or that allowing these cuts to expire would hurt our nation’s small businesses. This is flat out wrong. According to a recent report by the Center for American Progress, the economy boasted 132 million jobs in June 2001, the month that the first of the Bush tax cuts was signed into law. By June 2004, there were just 131.4 million jobs — a decrease of 600,000 jobs. Furthermore, a recent report from the Tax Policy Center states that, “Roughly 97 percent of small businesses would not be affected at all by increases in the top two tax rates.”
Rather, extending the Bush tax cuts will result in an $830 billion give-away for the nation’s wealthiest Americans, significantly increasing government debt, the interest on which will be paid by our nation’s middle-class for years to come. This astronomical sum could instead be used to close our budget deficit.
It is critical that we pass the Obama middle-class tax cuts — not providing an even greater lift for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need it.
Alcee L. Hastings
Mary Jo Kilroy
Sheila Jackson Lee
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.