Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Via USA Today:
Republicans protect the rich at expense of the middle class.
When the American people re-elected President Obama last month, they sent an unmistakable message to Washington. The wealthiest among us should pay their fair share and protect benefits that American families rely upon.
The middle class has already been forced to get by with less. The wealthiest 2% of Americans have continued to see their income rise as middle-class wages remained stagnant.
The latest proposal by Republicans fails to meet the basic test of fairness. Over the past two years, Republicans have forced cuts of more than $1.7 trillion for vital investments such as helping children get a college education and helping seniors heat their homes. But they have refused to ask the wealthy to contribute even a little more.
On Monday, Republican House leadership produced a plan that includes the tired old tax plan Mitt Romney proposed during his campaign, while cutting the security millions of Americans get through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
- First, the Republican proposal continues to hold millions of American families hostage to tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans. Even the center-right Simpson-Bowles proposal, which the Republican plan claims to be based on, proposed ending the Bush tax breaks for the top 2%.
- Second, the plan would cut benefits for seniors who depend on Social Security to put food on the table. Social Security is separate from the budget and does not contribute to the deficit. The GOP proposal to tie benefits to a lower level of inflation would cost the average 65-year-old retiring now more than $6,000 over 15 years. Consider this: More than a third of all widowed women rely on Social Security for 90% of their income.
- Third, Republicans indicated that they would raise the retirement age for Medicare recipients, increasing costs for seniors and raising health care costs in the entire economy. We need to find ways to lower health care costs, but putting seniors at the mercy of private insurance bureaucrats could force them to pay over $2,000 more annually for medicine and increase the cost to those still on Medicare.
Unfortunately, the Republican plan doesn't even touch Americans' most immediate concern: creating good jobs. It's time to focus on fairness. The Republican plan fails that test.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.