All we’ve been hearing about lately is the “fiscal cliff.” There is a lot of discussion about our nation’s budget right now — including what programs we as a society want to pay for and how we should pay for them. In the long run, we know we are all in this together.
We are all going to need to chip in to ensure that everybody has a good job, our kids get a world class education and that services for senior citizens continue. We also know that’s going to require sacrifice from all of us. In the meantime, experts say that the best thing we can do to get our country’s economic engine going again is by investing in the middle class and extending middle class tax cuts.
Tax hikes for the middle class couldn’t come at a worse time — the economy is still weak, and millions are still looking for work. Unfortunately, unless Congress takes action, on Jan. 1, taxes on the middle class will go up. Not only will the average family have to pay $1,600 more than they pay now, it’ll cost us 1.6 million jobs, and consumer spending will be cut by $200 billion, dragging down the whole economy.
The fact is, there is no excuse for Congress to raise middle class taxes. Both Democrats and Republicans support an extension of the middle-class tax cuts that are in place now. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership is holding the middle class tax cuts hostage, because they want to give millionaires a tax break at the same time. We can't allow controversial tax cuts for the rich to block this common-sense step, especially when our economy needs a boost.
A full 98.23 percent of Montanans make under $200,000 a year. We can’t let our taxes go up in order to make sure a few millionaires don’t pay a bit more. We need Rep. Denny Rehberg to stop playing games with middle-class families and vote for a simple extension of the tax cuts for 98.23 percent of Montanans.
As a former state senator, I still hear all the time from middle class families and small business owners who worry about the future. If congressional Republicans don’t start negotiating in good faith with President Barack Obama about the fiscal cliff, it is all of us who will suffer. That’s why I’m standing with Montana Fair Share, hundreds of my fellow Montanans and numerous small businesses and community organizations across our state to demand that our leaders in Washington do the right thing and extend middle class tax cuts now.
(Carol Juneau is a former state senator, a Democrat from Browning.)