Time to Coddle the Middle Class for a Change

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Photo courtesy of LiUNA

As the fiscal cliff looms, it is becoming nauseating to listen to extremist political operatives and special interest lobbyists argue we should hurt working people, the sick and elderly to ensure the super-rich don’t pay their fair share of the tax burden.

Someone should tell the special interests who coddle millionaires at everyone else’s expense that they lost on election day and the middle class won.

They’re reading from pre-election talking points about how making the wealthy pay a little more will chill the confidence of CEOs to hire and invest and stymie job creation.  No one’s buying this line, and we won’t agree to these strategies from those spending millions to hold on to their special favors in the tax code – even if they have to manufacture an “entitlement crisis” to justify cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  I’m sure they’d even cut vital federal transportation investments to avoid a fairer tax code.

To help amplify our message we have joined Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition determined to make sure the middle class is protected in any sort of “grand bargain” reached by the President and Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff.  We urge others to join.

Those opposed to tax fairness and policies that boost the middle class are on the wrong side of the facts and are defying the voters who said yes to tax fairness and job creation and no to cuts in Social Security and public health programs.  The fact is that we can’t, as 350 leading economists wrote, deflate our way to prosperity, a misguided notion that would slash millions of new jobs in the transportation and building trades sectors.

Oddly enough, one billionaire spoke clearly against these special interest scare tactics this week when he said raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans will not have a chilling effect on the economy.  Yes, the world’s third wealthiest man, Warren Buffett, said raising taxes on the rich will not dampen the economy.  In fact, he believes it will actually “raise the morale of the middle class.”

As I said on America’s Work Force Radio, the middle class won on Election Day.  Those who would sink the middle class to hold on to an unfair tax code and advance a reckless austerity agenda lost.  And the president’s plan to ‘nation build’ here at home by making transportation and infrastructure investments a key part of his economic recovery plan won.  Remember, for every billion dollars we pour into transportation ‘nation building’ investments at least 30,000 Americans go to work.

As AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka wrote Monday in a letter to members of Congress, “The only reason why Congress might pass such wildly unpopular proposals is that Republicans are holding the economy hostage…Their ransom demands are tax cuts for the wealthy and benefit cuts for working people.  It is time someone stood up to the hostage takers.”

I agree with Rich Trumka: it is time to coddle the middle class for a change.

 

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