Carl Levin’s explanation for voting no on tax cuts for the super-rich

I just received the following from Michigan Senator Carl Levin, explaining why he chose to vote against the President’s so-called “compromise” with Republicans. I’ve yet to receive anything from Michigan’s other Senator, Debbie Stabenow, explaining why she voted in a favor of the deal, which promises to deliver big tax breaks for the super-rich, ultimately leading to significant cuts in government programs servicing the poor and middle class.

Yesterday, I voted against the compromise tax legislation worked out between Republicans and the President. I wanted to take a moment to share my reasons with you.

The tax cuts in this legislation are unwisely skewed toward the wealthy, including an estate tax provision that would benefit a few thousand of our most fortunate taxpayers at great cost to the Treasury.

These benefits for the wealthiest among us will not, despite the claims of our Republican colleagues, help our economic recovery. Nearly everyone says that should be our top priority, and it should be. But economists across the ideological spectrum have demonstrated that tax cuts for the well-to-do have little impact on economic growth.

What’s worse, the upper-income tax cuts and estate tax provisions that Republicans support would add more than $100 billion to the national debt over the next two years. Republicans repeatedly tell us that the 2010 election was a call for more fiscal restraint. Yet their most significant action following that election has been to insist upon tax cuts for the wealthy paid for with billions of dollars of new debt.

In pursuit of their goal of extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, Republicans held hostage progress for the American people, not just on tax cuts, but on a range of other crucial issues. They told us they would not support tax cuts for working families, or emergency unemployment benefits, or tax relief to help businesses grow and add workers, unless we also gave away more borrowed money to the wealthy.

Despite its flaws, the bill had a number of strengths. Greatest among them was the extension of emergency unemployment benefits. Thousands of Michiganians and people in other states are without work through no fault of their own, and they and their families were depending on us to give them the support they need. We need to extend those benefits, and I believe we could have if we were determined to keep working, if necessary, right through to the new year.

Ultimately, I could not accept the price Republicans wanted to extract from us for these and other benefits. I believe that at some point, Democrats must stand up and fight against an approach that would sacrifice aid to the vast majority of Americans on the altar of unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. And so I voted against the tax bill.

As always, thanks for your support.

Sincerely,
Carl Levin

And I know that we’ve said it here before, but the rich aren’t clamoring for this tax cut. They aren’t demanding that their taxes be cut. This isn’t really about cutting taxes, though. This is about creating a crisis wherein the government is underfunded to the point where serious spending cuts need to be made. This is about laying the groundwork for the rollback of the New Deal. This is about setting the stage for the privatization of Social Security, and the elimination of social services. If you don’t see that, you’re blind… I appreciate the fact that Obama “negotiated” with the Republicans so that unemployed Americans could keep their benefits for another thirteen months. I like that he did what he felt that he had to do in order to prevent the onset of another recession. But, this is, at best, a short term fix. It buys us a little time, while running up the deficit almost another trillion dollars, and laying the groundwork for what’s right around the corner. You may not realize it yet, America, but things are about to get really weird.

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5 Comments

  1. Edward
    Posted December 17, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Too late. It passed the House. Glen S filed the following report in another thread.

    NYT: “The final vote in the House was 277 to 148 after liberal Democrats failed in one last bid to change an estate-tax provision in the bill that they said was too generous to the wealthiest Americans and that the administration agreed to in a concession to Republicans. The amendment failed, 233 to 194 … Supporting the overall measure were 139 Democrats and 138 Republicans; opposed were 112 Democrats and 36 Republicans.”

    For those keeping track, our own member of Congress, John Dingell, voted “Yes.”

  2. Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “This isn’t really about cutting taxes, though. This is about creating a crisis wherein the government is underfunded to the point where serious spending cuts need to be made. This is about laying the groundwork for the rollback of the New Deal. This is about setting the stage for the privatization of Social Security, and the elimination of social services. If you don’t see that, you’re blind… ”

    Exactly. I’m glad someone’s saying this.

  3. Kim
    Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Sadly, in this instance, it’s only one guy with a blog in Ypsilanti.

  4. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Now that Senator Levin has bowed out for 2014. I’m expecting Gary Peters or Debbie Dingell to be the Democrats strongest choices to replace him. I’m going to encourage my GOP congressman Kerry Bentivolio to run for it, and I will work hard to get him the nomination. I think he’s got a much better chance at that than he does at winning re-election.

  5. Elviscostello
    Posted March 9, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Robert, the only reason Bentivolio was elected was that he ran against Dr. Taj. Had he run against Dave Curson for the full term, he would not be in Washington. His positions were too extreme for his district.

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