Sen. Brown Call for Senate to Improve Tax Agreement and Shore Up Social Security

In Advance of Senate Vote on Obama’s Tax Deal, A Group of Senators Urge Majority Leader Reid to End Bonus Tax Cuts for Millionaires and Strengthen Social Security Finances in Compromise Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined a group Senators urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to consider an alternative tax cut agreement to strengthen Social Security instead of providing additional tax cuts on income over $1 million. Led by U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) it was also signed by Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

 “Extending tax bonuses for the richest two percent of Americans will blow a $30 billion hole in the budget each year,” Brown said. “Meanwhile, Republican Senators denied seniors a cost-of-living adjustment to their Social Security benefits, a move that would help seniors make ends meet at a fraction of the cost. By enacting this compromise, we’ll see millionaires and billionaires become richer while more seniors fall into poverty. That is simply unacceptable.”

 The letter calls for the restoration of Clinton-era tax rates for incomes more than $1 million. Without this change, the Obama tax cut proposal gives families making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year an annual average tax cut of $1,679. For families making over $1 million, the average tax cut is nearly $140,000.  The generated revenue, the letter says, should be applied to shoring up the Social Security trust fund which is projected to exhaust funding in 2037.

 Below is the full text of the letter:

 Dear Leader Reid:

 The tax package announced by President Obama and Congressional Republicans includes some important provisions that we strongly support, but also a deeply misguided allocation of resources at a time that the United States does not have resources to waste. 

 The Senate, however, can make it better.  We ask that you ensure an opportunity for the Senate to vote on an amendment that will give the American people a clear choice whether they would prefer to give bonus tax cuts to the very wealthiest among us, as the package currently proposes, or to use these resources to strengthen Social Security.

 Success in America should rightly be celebrated, but the very wealthy do not need bonus tax cuts and America cannot afford to give them.  As you know, the agreement would require American taxpayers to borrow over $50 billion in order to give, on average, $100,000 in additional annual tax cuts to people earning over $1 million per year.  These bonus tax cuts are on top of the $43,000 per year that millionaires will receive in tax cuts on their first million dollars of income.  The Congressional Budget Office ranked these tax cuts dead last in terms of effectiveness in boosting economic growth and job creation.  In a time of urgent national needs and long-term deficits, we believe the country has higher priorities than these huge tax cuts for the very wealthy. 

 Specifically, we propose to amend the package to restore tax rates on income over $1 million per year to the Clinton-era rates, and to dedicate the resulting revenues to shoring up the Social Security trust fund.  The President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform noted that in 2037, Social Security will exhaust its trust fund and be unable to pay full benefits, and consequently proposed a number of benefit cuts for seniors.  Improving Social Security’s finances is, in our opinion, a more important national priority than directing tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to a relative handful of families. 

 We have grave misgivings about the recent tax agreement.  We hope that the Senate can improve on it.  We look forward to working with you to ensure a vote on our amendment to strengthen Social Security in lieu of bonus tax cuts for people who are doing quite well.  Thank you.


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