Last week, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer held a press conference to say that tax reform should be implemented without lowering tax rates for the highest earners.
“Our needs today are different compared to 1986, and we cannot take the same approach we did then. We must reduce the deficit, which is strangling our economic growth. And we must seek to control the rise in income inequality, which is hollowing out the middle class,” Schumer said Tuesday. “The 1986 model would be ineffective — if not counterproductive — to solving these two challenges.”
Though Schumer drew a lot of attention for seemingly breaking with convention, his remarks at the National Press Club were not unlike earlier hardball speeches delivered this summer, including one from former supercommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“We absolutely need to reform the tax code,” she said in a July address to the Brookings Institution. “It’s badly broken. And I am certainly willing to discuss a fast-track process for getting that done. But there is absolutely no reason — not one — that we need to extend the tax cuts for the rich as a precondition for reforming the tax code,” the No. 4 Senate Democrat said. “Republicans are going to have to accept that tax reform isn’t going to be a backdoor way for them sneak through more tax cuts for the rich. And it is going to have to raise revenue to help rein in the deficit and debt.”
Murray has also made it clear that she’s ready to go over the cliff to force Republicans to the table on taxes, noting that any bill that passed next year after the Bush tax rates expire would be a tax cut.
Kate Ackley and Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.