US Democrats aim tax, spending cuts at rich to avoid 'meat ax'

Barack Obama

US Democrats have proposed substituting the $85 billion "meat-ax" approach to deficit reduction with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes, although they acknowledge it is not clear if that will be embraced by President Barack Obama.

Facing government spending cuts that could delay air travelers, pare education programs for the poor and weaken military readiness, Democrats in the US Congress this week sought to shift the deficit-reduction burden to the rich.

Without congressional action, about $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts are set to begin on March 1. If allowed to continue, they could slow economic growth this year, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

The savings, known in Washington as the "sequester," would cut into most military and domestic programs. Worse, they would be compressed into a short time frame of March 1-Sept. 30, when Washington's fiscal year ends.

In a taunt to Republicans who oppose any tax increases to reduce deficits, Democrats are again aiming at squeezing more revenues out of the wealthy to help bring down the debt. It is a gambit they successfully deployed weeks ago when a "fiscal cliff" deal raised around $600 billion over 10 years by letting income tax rates rise on the highest earners.

"They (Republicans) have to tell the American people whether they care more about protecting special-interest tax breaks like those for big oil companies or whether they care about defense spending and economic growth," said Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of a three-day House Democratic retreat.

Most of the Democrats' savings ideas already have been floated in past legislative debates.

Van Hollen, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said that under their plan, tax deductions for the very wealthy would be limited by phasing in a 30 percent effective tax rate for those earning more than $1 million a year.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.