With Republicans having walked away from their budget negotiations with the White House, key individuals and groups on the political left are urging President Obama not to cave in to GOP demands and pushing Democrats not to give up on tax hikes as part of any budget deal.
Congressional Republicans walked out of budget talks on Thursday over how to extend U.S. borrowing and avoid a looming debt default. Republicans have been demanding extraordinarily deep cuts in federal spending in exchange for allowing a needed increase in the federal debt limit.
Many progressive Democrats have insisted spending cuts be paired with some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to create a sense of shared sacrifice. Republicans, however, have consistently balked at any tax hikes.
“The Republican walkout should not result in the president and vice president capitulating to Republican demands,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, the left-leaning Vermont independent, says. “Poll after poll shows that the American people do not agree with the Republican approach, which suggests that the wealthiest people in the country and the largest corporations should be exempt from participating in deficit reduction.
“The American people do not believe, as the Republicans do, that the budget should be solely balanced on the backs of the middle class, the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor,” Sanders adds. “The American people want shared sacrifice and President Obama must not yield one inch from that principle.”
Meanwhile, 151 state and national groups on Thursday separately called on Congress to pass the Fairness in Taxation Act, sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). The bill would enact new tax rates for millionaires and billionaires as a way to build a strong middle class and preserve important programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, supporters say.
“Our nation is at a crossroads,” their letter to Congress states. “Will we continue to squeeze working families and the middle class or will we provide security for our families and build a brighter future for our children? During the last 30 years, while incomes have stagnated for middle- and low-income people, wealth has been transferred from the middle class to the rich and income inequality is at its highest since 1928. If we do not restore tax fairness, the income gap will certainly widen and it will be impossible to continue to pay for the important programs that protect our families and build a strong, healthy, vibrant middle class.”
USAction, one of the groups which led the letter campaign, is planning a number of activities this summer to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and to point out the need for new revenue, according to Alan Charney, USAction director of policy and strategic planning.
“Enough is enough,” Charney says. “Our economy is in tatters and the middle class is disappearing. Yet some in Congress are at it again. They want to give even larger tax cuts to corporations and the super rich while destroying Medicare and Medicaid and other vital services that we depend on.”
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.