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Millionaires and Billionaires and Hawks, Oh My

Today, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, sent out a statement blasting a Republican plan to keep all the Bush tax cuts, adding an estimated $4 trillion to the deficit.

“Republicans are holding hostage tax cuts for working Nevadans, and their ransom is even bigger breaks for millionaires and CEOs who ship American jobs overseas. Today we learned that these breaks would double our deficit and add nearly a trillion dollars in interest to our tab with countries like China,” Reid wrote.

“We already knew the Republican plan to help millionaires before the middle-class hurts hard-working families, but this news confirms that it’s also bad national economic policy. We should help the thousands of Nevadans and millions of Americans who are out of work – not the CEOs who laid them off. And we certainly shouldn’t be padding millionaires’ pockets at the expense of our deficit and the interest we owe to China. But that is exactly what Republicans want us to do.”

President Obama made similar points this afternoon — arguing that Republicans want to benefit “millionaires and billionaires,” but that the country cannot afford it. He asked Congress to pass his extension of the tax cuts for all lower-income and middle-income families, but to let the tax cuts expire for the richest 2.1 percent of earners — and to pass the package “right now.” He noted that the Republican plan would be “worth an average of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires,” and it doesn’t make sense.

I think we’ll hear a lot more about taxes on millionaires and billionaires in the coming weeks, as Democrats decide which tax packages to move on and then wrangle for Republican votes. One might, might, be able to argue that raising taxes on a family making $250,000 a year does not make sense — particularly if that family is actually a small business. (Though, again, the tax bump would be only a few hundred dollars for a family or business with those earnings.) Millionaires? It will be hard to see Republicans defend them. That is why, again, I would not be surprised to see this rhetorical shift become a literal legislative change.

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