All around the country, right-wing legislators are asking Main Street Americans to pay for budget deficits caused mainly by a recession caused by Wall Street by attacking collective bargaining, and cutting necessary services and investments like college tuition aid and health care for the poor.
As these conservatives are cutting these services for hard-working middle class Americans, they are claiming they are acting out of need for “shared sacrifice.” Yet at the same time, the right continues to advocate for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.
Rep. Jan Schakowksy (D-IL), along with a number of her progressive congressional colleagues, has introduced a plan that demands real “shared sacrifice.” Her plan, The Fairness in Taxation Act, calls for creating new tax brackets for the richest Americans, starting at a 45 percent rate for people whose income is $1 million. Her bracket would impose the highest rate — 49 percent — on billionaires.
A chart provided by her congressional office demonstrates that asking the wealthiest among us to pay a little more would actually save more money than all of the House Republicans’ cuts to domestic spending combined. House Resolution 1, which gutted funding on Pell Grants, low-income housing aid, community health centers, and other important programs for Main Street Americans, cut a total of $61 billion. Meanwhile, Schakowsky’s plan saves $78.9 billion, considerably more:
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Schakowsky said that she is “hoping” to build enough momentum within Congress to make her proposal the main alternative to the conservative slash-and-burn budget effort, saying that it is a “winner” for Democrats, both politically and on policy grounds. She said that the House Progressive Caucus is planning to do a road show in the summer to campaign on tax justice and endorsed the Main Street Movement that is defending the middle class across America:
THINKPROGRESS: You’ve mentioned a few times the grassroots movement that’s going on…that’s something that we here at ThinkProgress have dubbed the Main Street Movement, all around this country we’re seeing working families rise up. [...] I wonder if you’ve and your colleagues on the Progressive Caucus have thought about similar kinds of tactics [to the Tea Party], a road show, holding rallies, trying to engender grassroots momentum around your proposals.
SCHAKOWSKY: Well, the Progressive Caucus is planning a road show this summer. This will be a central theme of that. [...] But I think this needs to be bigger than that. [...] I like the idea of branding, I like the idea of the Main Street Movement, and I think it is beginning to seriously come together. I think all of the pieces are out there to put this together right now. This is a moment. I want to capture it right now by introducing this legislation that clearly states an alternative that is very popular.
Listen to it:
Indeed, taxing the super-wealthy is quite popular. A March 2 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81 percent of Americans prefer taxing the wealthiest Americans more as their top choice for deficit reduction, while less than a third of Americans endorsed policy options like cutting funding to education and health care.
ThinkProgress commenter Jay Kimball used IRS data to put together the following graph showing how the richest 1 percent of Americans is nearly earning more money than they ever have while they are paying the lowest taxes in decades: