Md. Dems back Obama's debt plan
Maryland Democrats on Monday praised President Barack Obama’s plan to trim the nation’s debt by more than $3 trillion but Republican leaders just as aggressively opposed the proposal, which calls for as much as $1.5 trillion in new taxes.
Arguing that Washington cannot rely solely on cuts to address the nation’s growing budget deficit, Obama called for ending income tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, a new minimum tax rate on millionaires and curbing certain loopholes for those earning more than $250,000.
“It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million,” Obama said during a Rose Garden address Monday. “Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is serving on a bipartisan panel charged with making recommendations to reduce budget deficits by $1.5 trillion, said Obama’s plan represents a “common sense” approach that deserves “serious consideration” by the committee.
“He laid out the case for putting our fiscal house in order by making difficult cuts and also asking millionaires and billionaires to pay at least the same effective tax rate as many of those who work for them,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley called it a “balanced and responsible” proposal.
“And unlike the proposals put forth by congressional Republicans, President Obama's plan asks Americans of all income levels to contribute their fair share to reducing the deficit,” O’Malley said in a statement.
Republicans have cast many of the provisions, especially the proposed tax increases on the wealthy, as class warfare. House Speaker John Boehner said the GOP-led House and the White House appeared to be no closer to an agreement on the deficit than they were during protracted negotiations over the summer on the nation’s debt limit.
“Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership,” Boehner said in a statement. “This administration’s insistence on raising taxes on job creators and its reluctance to take the steps necessary to strengthen our entitlement programs are the reasons the president and I were not able to reach an agreement previously, and it is evident today that these barriers remain.”
Other Maryland reaction:
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer: "The plan put forward by the president today is a balanced approach to create jobs in the short-term and bring down the deficit over the long-term. It asks everyone to pay their fair share, strengthens Medicare and Medicaid for future generations while protecting beneficiaries, and emphasizes the need for immediate job creation."
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees: "Asking federal employees to accept additional cuts to their take-home pay is unfair, especially at a time when citizens are demanding more services from their government...This is a double whammy for federal employees, who are facing the same economic hardships as most other Americans. Enough is enough.”
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin: “I agree with the president that every American – including millionaires and billionaires – needs to pay their fair share to solve our fiscal problems. He has put forward a solid, balanced plan that stimulates private-sector growth and legitimate profit-making, but not in such a way that squeezes the middle class out of existence or puts seniors and other vulnerable Americans at greater risk."