Senate Democrats: Wealthy Americans must shoulder larger share of deficit reduction

By Stewart Doan

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.


WASHINGTON, July 6 - Senate Democrats are answering Republican opposition to including higher taxes in a deal on government spending and the nation's borrowing limit with a non-binding resolution calling for shared sacrifice in reducing the budget deficit.


The resolution states that it is the Sense of the Senate that “any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1 million or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort.”

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A vote on the measure is expected on Thursday.


At a Capitol Hill press conference, led by Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, seven Democratic senators charged the House-passed budget would cut medicare by $165 billion annually to maintain $131 billion in tax breaks for drug and oil companies and millionaires.


“For every millionaire, who under the House plan would get an additional $200,000 tax cut a year, it would take 33 senior citizens - each paying an extra $6,000 in health care costs to be pay for that one millionaire,” Stabenow said.


She described subsidies as tax earmarks for the “wealthy elite and the well-connected.


“This kind of spending needs to be included as we focus on spending and tax fairness,” Stabenow said.


According to the Senate Ag Chair, all federal spending, including farm subsidies, has to be on the table. 


“Agriculture is going to have to do its fair share,” she told Agri-Pulse.


House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have said repeatedly that tax hikes cannot be part of any agreement with the White House to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling. Both are scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama this morning at the White House, along with 6 other top GOP and Democratic leaders from both chambers.


Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island questioned the fairness of a $40,000-a-year truck driver paying the same percentage of his or her income in taxes as the rate paid by the 40 richest Americans.


“What do the Republicans say about that? Nothing! Let the good times roll,” he said sarcastically.


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire urged GOP congressional leaders to embrace the deficit-cutting blueprint developed by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. 


She noted that three Senate Republicans - Judd Gregg, Tom Coburn and Mike Crapo - were among the 14 members of the panel who agreed with recommendations for spending reductions and tax increases coupled with the elimination of $1.1 trillion in annual tax loopholes.


Democrats, Shaheen said, recognize that “hard choices” on spending must be made, pointing to their support for $38 billion in cuts in the final fiscal 2011 Continuing Resolution.   


“Now the question is: When are our colleagues on the other side of the aisle going to come to the table and recognize that to address our debt and deficit challenges they've got raise revenue and address tax loopholes?”



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