Keep pushing Congress!

Posted on by webadmin
  • Though a deal looks less and less likely, the Supercommittee could still agree to cut vital programs, pass an insignificant tax increase, and leave the Pentagon largely untouched. Keep calling your Senators and Representatives, because…
  • Whatever happens, we will need to keep pushing back for the next month+.
  • If there’s a Supercommittee deal, it is almost certainly going to be an austerity plan that includes deep cuts to vital social programs with little or no real reduction in military spending.  If that’s the case, we should demand that Congress vote it down.
  • If there’s not, we must try to keep the Pentagon on the chopping block — or undo the automatic cuts entirely. (There will be a national discussion about this and the New Priorities Network is not going to decide its strategy in isolation.)

Whatever happens this week, congratulations. Your solid grassroots work and allies across the community, labor, faith, and human service worlds are keeping Congress from balancing the deficit on our backs.

Here is an update from our wonderful friends at the Coalition for Human Needs, who have stepped into a vacuum and taken on the job of coordinating grassroots opposition to the Supercommittee.

“No one wants to give up hope.  Reality, to some extent, is starting to overtake hope.”

Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), House co-chair of Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Fox News Sunday

Although most members of the Joint Select Committee speaking on the various political shows are saying they will still work on a deal till the last minute, there are other press accounts (the Washington Post, for example) saying they may announce that they can’t get to “yes” on Monday.

Whatever the timing, both sides are pointing to the issue of tax revenues as the source of the jam.  Senator Kyl (R-AZ) on Meet the Press said the Republicans, through the Toomey plan, came up with a “breakthrough” of $250 billion in net new tax revenue.  He characterized this as more tax dollars to be paid by the rich than they now pay.

That is unsupported by the facts.  The Toomey plan

– assumes the Bush tax cuts are all made permanent, but doesn’t count this large loss of revenue because they start with the assumption (aka “baseline”) that all the Bush tax cuts will continue as they are now.

– proposes a large tax increase (worth trillions of dollars) by reducing the amount people can get from tax deductions and credits.  This is done in a way that hits middle income people harder than it would hit upper income people.

– proposes tax rate reductions for most if not all tax rates, including a reduction of the top rate from 35 percent down to 28 percent.  Although lower rates are also reduced, the largest beneficiaries of this rate reduction will be those at the top.

– because the tax increase is supposed to be somewhat larger than the rate reductions, there would be $250 billion in net new tax revenue.  But the overall change to the tax code would give the greatest benefits to those at the top, and would shift burden on to the middle class.  (It would also shift burden to people with low incomes, if the reductions in tax expenditures proposed by Toomey do not exempt the EITC and Child Tax Credit.)

Senator Kerry (D-MA) on Meet the Press said there were two things standing in the way of a deal:

1) the Republicans think they can win the presidency and the Senate so will wait to write their own deal; and

2) the Republicans’ “insistence, insistence, insistence” on holding to the Grover Norquist pledge of no new taxes.

Kerry pointed out that it was not true that the Democrats were unwilling to make cuts without tax increases.  The first round of $917 billion in discretionary cuts are unaccompanied by any revenue increases.  He recounted many offers the Democrats had made to make painful cuts in entitlements, including means-testing Social Security and Medicare, and said the Democrats would agree to “fast-track” tax reform in future activity by the tax-writing committees, including lowering corporate rates.  But the Democrats insisted that the other side “back off” on extending the Bush tax cuts.

So there things are.

We very much appreciate the thousands of calls that have been made about the deficit reduction deal.  The toll-free phone line will remain open on Monday (1-888-907-1485) – so please keep encouraging people to call!

Balanced Budget Amendment:  I’m sure you know – the Balanced Budget Amendment (H.J. Res 2) was defeated in the House.  Two-thirds were needed, but the vote was 261-165.  Twenty-five Democrats voted for the BBA; 4 Republicans opposed.  This is very important.  A similar version of the BBA was passed by the House in the past; now, even though there is a more conservative Congress, it failed.  Concerns over what this would do to the economy were strong.  Thanks and congratulations to everyone who called and wrote in opposition.
Deborah Weinstein

Executive Director

Coalition on Human Needs


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