John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Reid’s Secret Plan To Raise Taxes on the Middle Class

Posted on August 7, 2013

The message to the Senate Finance Chairman was pretty clear:  No tax reform unless you raise taxes on middle class Americans.

That is the only conclusion you could reach from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s demand that Max Baucus back off on his tax simplification plans unless it raises close to a trillion dollars in new revenue.

Everybody recognizes the need for fundamental tax reform.  The system is inefficient, unfair and so complex that most people have to hire outside help to figure it all out.

Dave Camp, the Ways and Means Chairman and Mr. Baucus have gone on an unprecedented road show, building the case for a simpler, flatter and more fair tax regime.  They have visited small businesses, big businesses, manufacturers, exporters, farmers and everybody in between, bringing their charts, facts and figures to the people.

There is little doubt about their commitment to reform.  The Ways and Means Chairman has even scheduled a mark-up in the Fall, just in case all of the stars align for a real effort.

So, what’s the big issue?  How much are middle class tax payers going to pay for such an effort?

House and Senate Republican Leaders believe that they shouldn’t have to pay anything more.  Indeed, they want to follow the precedent of the 1986 effort, which assumed revenue neutrality.

Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Reid doesn’t share that view.  He wants a trillion dollars of more tax revenue and sadly, for middle class taxpayers, that’s where that money will most likely come from.

We can make that assumption because that is precisely what the Democrats did to Mitt Romney during the last campaign.  Remember when the so-called “well-respected” and “non-partisan” Tax Policy Center analyzed Mitt Romney’s tax reform plan?  Remember when they filled in the blanks for Romney and they magically came up with a tax plan that significantly raised taxes on middle class Americans.

The Romney plan, of course, did no such thing, but that didn’t stop the non-partisan Tax Policy Center from helping out the Obama Campaign which of course ran millions of dollars of campaign ads accusing Romney of wanting to raise taxes on the middle class.

And keep in mind, the Romney plan was revenue-neutral, unlike the Senate Budget plan and Harry Reid’s demand for a trillion dollars in higher taxes.

In case you didn’t remember, the Senate passed a budget that included reconciliation instructions to raise taxes the Reid way, or about a trillion dollars.  Max Baucus voted against that budget because he knew it would kill tax reform and that it would raise taxes significantly on middle class voters.

Senator Chuck Grassley challenged Reid to define exactly where he would raise those taxes in a speech last month.  Grassley pointed out that while Reid has happily defined about 100 billion of tax increases, he has refused to flush out the rest.  He asked which of the top ten tax breaks, most of which hit the middle class the hardest is they were repealed, Reid wanted to roll back.

Grassley, of course, didn’t get a response from Reid.  Reid doesn’t want to spill the beans and he doesn’t really want tax reform.  Instead, he wants an issue.

He wants to beat up Republicans for being the party of the rich, all the while pushing policies that will hit the middle class the hardest.

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