Wednesday Jolt: For Working Moms in Tennis Shoes

By Josh Feit July 25, 2012

Big news out of DC today: The Democratic Senate voted to extend the Bush tax cuts for "the middle class"—people making under $250,000 a year.

Republicans agree with the extension, but they also want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

By passing just the middle class tax cut, the Democrats are forcing the Republicans to either extend the cuts for the majority of Americans or sacrifice them in deference to the upper class. (The Democrats see renewing taxes on the wealthy to Clinton-era levels as a way to add revenue to the budget and help balance it—staving off the sequestration deal that would end the tax cuts for everyone plus kick in $500 million in social service cuts and $500 million in defense budget cuts).

It's some pretty impressive gamesmanship from the Democrats.

And from US Sen. Patty Murray. She framed the debate after the vote with a tweet.

Indeed, as far as we can tell, Murray has been leading the charge for the 99 percent on this for weeks---including at the Downtown Seattle YWCA, where she called on the Republicans to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire as a way to fund social services.

Most recently, Sen. Murray was seen speaking on the Senate floor in favor of extending the tax cut for the middle class and cancelling the cut for the wealthy.

Here's an excerpt:

This should be a no-brainer. Democrats don’t want taxes on middle class families to go up. And Republicans claim they want that too—they also say they want these tax cuts extended.

So Mr. President, this should be easy—when 100 senators agree on a policy, we should be able to pass a bill. But unfortunately, Republicans aren’t focused on the 98% we agree on—they are preoccupied with the 2% we don’t.

And they are prepared to take our country over the edge and into the New Year in an effort to prevent millionaires and billionaires from paying a penny more in taxes. Republicans are so opposed to having the wealthiest pay the very same rate they were paying during the Clinton years—that if they can’t force through more tax cuts for the rich—they would prefer taxes to go up on every middle class family.

They want 98% of workers to pay the price if millionaires are asked to pay a penny more. This is an unbelievable, deeply cynical position to take. And it just doesn’t make any sense. Mr. President—we have a fundamental difference of opinion between the two parties about the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that have added trillions of dollars to the deficit and debt.

I’m not asking Republicans to set aside their values—it’s clear they are deeply committed to putting more money in the pockets of the rich. All I am saying—all Democrats are saying—is we shouldn’t let this disagreement on tax cuts for the rich cause taxes to go up for the middle class.

We can certainly have a real debate about the merits of extending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires—I am confident Republicans are ready to stand here on the floor and make their case, and I am prepared to make mine.

Murray went on to offer a preemptive strike on the Republicans' talking point that the cuts need to be extended for those making over $250,000 to protect small businesses. Murray quotes a parade of small business owners who support raising taxes on those making over $250,000, saying that the GOP is "out of touch with the economic reality of the majority of small business owners in this country."

The Washington Post definitively debunked the small business argument explaining: "If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets -- individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year."

This explains Murray's opening line: “Mr. President, I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to support the extension of tax cuts for 98 percent of workers and 97 percent of small business owners."

Here's her Jolt-worthy speech:

By the way, the Senate bill also extends average-Joe tax credits such as the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. The failed Republican alternative bill extended the Bush tax cuts for both the middle class and the wealthy—and it left out bonuses such as the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit.
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