An guest editorial by Tammy Siekmann
Broad agreement is something that has been sadly missing in Washington in the last several years. Members of Congress in both the House and the Senate, officials in the Obama Administration from the president to the secretaries of State and Defense, the nation’s economists and business leaders and citizens’ groups from across the political spectrum all agree – raising taxes on 98% of all Americans and 97% of small businesses would hobble the recovery and could drive the US back into recession.
That’s why I’m involved in a grassroots movement that’s urging Congressmen Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta to support an up-or-down vote on a bill currently waiting for a vote in the House that would keep in place the current tax rates on the middle-class and keep us away from the fiscal cliff. We’re called The Action and we believe that we can raise the necessary revenue to begin spending down the debt and to protect middle-class taxpayers by raising taxes on the top two percent of taxpayers.
The Senate has already passed the bill that would that keep tax cuts in place for the 98%. As Pres. Obama put it last month, “(l)et’s begin our work with where we agree. If we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well, I’ll sign this bill as soon as the House sends it my way.”
(CNN.com “GOP divide over Obama tax plan goes public,” Tom Cohen, November 28, 2012 http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/28/politics/fiscal-cliff/index.html).
While partisan posturing in Washington is hardly new or novel, we believe that this presents a chance to provide revenue to start paying down the debt and to strengthen the recovery during the holiday season and into the new year. Republicans want to keep middle-class taxes low and to find solutions to the deficit. Democrats want to keep middle-taxes low and to find solutions to the deficit. The bill the Senate passed does both – and everyone agrees.
This makes the debate about the fiscal cliff all the more frustrating. Can things really be so bad in Washington that something that everyone agrees on is still held hostage to partisan wrangling? We don’t think it is, because we believe that, especially at the holidays, people can put agendas aside to work for the common good.
Reps. Bass and Guinta have a chance, before they leave Congress, to help set the tone for the future by putting behind the paralytic partisanship that has crippled the current Congress and to make clear that they truly support low taxes on the middle-class and believe we need to take serious steps to reduce the debt. Both have spoken passionately about these issues and now they have a chance to demonstrate it with their votes.
The nation simply cannot afford to double down on tax cuts for the super-rich will cost the rest of us $1 trillion. If we spend that money on tax cuts for the wealthy, we will not be able to provide the basic building blocks of opportunity to that make it possible for average, working people to get ahead. Pres. Obama made wealthiest Americans pay a little more – their fair share – a central theme of his campaign. This theme won him New Hampshire’s electoral votes and a second term.
If we spend that money on tax cuts for the wealthy, budget shortfalls will force into overcrowded classrooms and we won’t be able to ensure our children are educated for the jobs and challenges of the future. Tax cuts for the wealthy means fewer Pell Grants, fewer Head Starts and more kindergarteners shoved into crowded classrooms.
We have a choice to make. We can choose to be a country where everyone pays their fair share or we can be a nation in which there are the very rich, and then there is everyone else. It’s a choice between the failed, top-down policies of the past and growing the economy from the middle out by investing in education, research, innovation and technology. I hope that Congressmen Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass will realize this – and support the middle-class by supporting an up-or-down vote on tax cuts for the 98%.
Tammy Siekmann is town chair for the Londonderry Democrats