Schumer, left, and Harkin held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the fiscal cliff negotiations and Schumer predicted a post-Christmas Senate session to handle any deal.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill should it reach Obama’s desk.
Harkin added that Boehner’s plan, while giving a tax cut to everyone but millionaires, would hurt the middle class by reducing subsidies for low- and medium-income families, and for education.
“What Boehner is proposing is strictly a hit on the lower rungs on the middle class of America,” Harkin said.
Democrats had initially sought to extend tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 to households making less than $250,000 a year. But in a negotiation with Boehner, the president had suggested setting the threshold at $400,000 a year.
Schumer forced a Senate vote on the $1 million threshold in the 2010 lame-duck session, but the proposal was defeated.
Asked if he still supports the $1 million figure, Schumer said that the political landscape has changed from 2010 and the president won re-election on the $250,000 level.
“The Republicans had their chance two years ago,” Schumer said. “We put it on the floor, if they would have voted for it, we would have had it. But you can’t turn the clock back two years.”
Harkin criticized the president for negotiating to $400,000 from $250,000
“In the latest poll, 74 percent of the American people supported that, why are we going to $400,000?” Harkin asked after the press conference.
“If there was one place where Obama should have dug in his heels and said, ‘No, the American people spoke, now what else do you want to talk about,’” Harkin said. “Every time you raise that amount [the difference] has to come out of the spending side ...[and] really hits middle-class Americans.”
Harkin added that he doesn’t want to see the use of chained-CPI that affects Social Security or doesn’t protect lower-income beneficiaries. Chained-CPI is a slower means of calculating the inflation rate, which affects cost of living adjustments for federal programs
Obama appears to have embraced the idea and floated a “superlative CPI” that the White House says would shield the neediest beneficiaries from the change.
“I am not supportive a chained-CPI at all, but I recognize reality,” Harkin said, adding that anything dealing with Social Security should be off the table.
It was unclear earlier Wednesday afternoon if the House would have sufficient votes to advance the measure (H J Res 66), pushing back a scheduled meeting of the House Rules Committee to consider the legislative vehicle for Boehner’s package that would extend many lower tax rates on families earning up to $1 million per year.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.