Democrats are making it crystal-clear that the Republicans will sacrifice the middle class to protect the wealthy.
It's no secret that Republicans in Congress have stubbornly refused to raise taxes on anyone for the past several years. Now, a new bill appears to have been designed solely to use the GOP's conviction to make them look very, very bad. As an election strategy, it just might work.
The bill, introduced by Senate Democrats, would tax millionaires in order to extend a cut on payroll taxes for most workers. The plan would reduce the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent, in response to the imminent expiration of a 2 percent payroll tax holiday put in place last year. To pay for it, millionaires will pay a 3.25 percent surcharge—a stipulation that will trigger virtually all Republicans to shoot it down. The Obama administration knows full well Republicans will oppose this idea. That's exactly why they're pushing for a vote.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid keeps reminding us that "935 hard-earned dollars" are at stake for the average family. The White House has posted a tax calculator on its website so individual Americans can see how much they'll save (or how much more they'll have to pay if Republicans stonewall the bill). President Obama himself went to Pennsylvania today, supposedly to make the case for tax cuts. But he spent most of his speech taking Republicans to task. "I hope that they don't just want to score political points," Obama said of the GOP. "This cannot be about who wins and loses in Washington." He made sure to call out Republicans who signed Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge to refuse to support any tax hike. "How is it they can break an oath when it comes to raising your taxes but not when it comes to wealthy people?"
Democrats are making sure to let us know that the GOP is willing to take $1,000 from 160 million American workers to save millionaires. As the election approaches, Obama is listening to the talk about the 99 percent and the wealth gap, and he's using it to his advantage. He knew his jobs bill was almost sure to fail; he was hoping he would score a few points of his own when Republicans rejected it. Now he's reminding people that he's been lowering their taxes all along. On one hand, it's depressing to watch both sides dangle bills and proposals in front of our eyes just for political theater. (Debt ceiling debacle, anyone?) Still, it is kind of refreshing to see a president daring Congress to put their money where their mouth is.