As the deadline to stop automatic spending cuts and tax increases trigger nears, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) took to the Senate floor on Monday to decry the current deal, saying “no deal is better” than the one currently on the table.
Harkin said he was “disturbed” to read a report in the Washington Post that Democrats were debating giving in on giving in on tax cuts up to $400,000 instead of the previously proposed $250,000 and that they were considering keeping estates of $5 million or more at the tax rate of 35 percent.
“Well, I can tell you Mr. President, this is one Democrat who doesn’t agree with that,” Harkin said, saying that the deal meant that the tax cuts would remain permanent, but “all of the other things that the middle class in America really depends [sic] on is extended for one year, maybe two years.”
“Well I just think that’s grossly unfair. Grossly unfair,” Harkin continued. He pointed out that those who make $250,000 or more a year are the top 2 percent of income earners in America. By moving the tax cuts to $400,000, Harkin said, it sends a message that earners who make that much are “middle class.”
“Have we forgotten that average income earners in America are making $25, $30, $40, $50, or $60,000 a year? That’s the real middle class in America,” Harkin pointed out. “And they’re the ones that are getting hammered right now. They’re getting hammered with housing costs, rental, heating bills, kids going to school. They have no retirement. Now we’re talking about raising the retirement age on people who work hard every day?”
“As I see this thing developing, quite frankly, as I’ve said before, no deal is better than a bad deal, and this looks like a very bad deal the way this is shaping up,” Harkin said.
He said that when the deadline is reached tax rates will go back to what they were during Clinton’s presidency. “What’s so bad about that?”
“What’s happened is in the last ten years a lot of people have gotten very rich in this country. Very rich. And now they want to protect their wealth. And that’s what they want to do,” Harkin said. “I think it’s time they started paying their fair share.”
Harkin isn’t the only left-of-center critic on this reported deal. The New Republic‘s Timothy Noah’s asked House and Senate Democrats in an open letter to kill the proposed deal, saying, “Your president has sold you out.”
Watch video from C-SPAN, broadcast Dec. 21, 2012.
Video clipped by David Edwards.