Reid says Boehner debt plan would raise taxes on middle class

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday slammed Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt offer, which Reid said would raise billions of dollars in taxes on middle-class families.

Reid said Boehner would raise taxes on the middle class to shield “millionaires and billionaires” from feeling “pain” and dismissed the latest Republican proposal to the White House as a “nonstarter.”

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“Their proposal would raise taxes on millions of middle-class families,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Their plan to raise $800 billion in revenue by eliminating popular tax deductions and credits would reach deep into pockets of middle-class families.

“Republicans are so intent on protecting low tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, they’re willing to sacrifice the middle-class families’ economic security to do so,” he added.

Boehner’s plan would raise $800 billion by curtailing a variety of unspecified tax breaks, cut healthcare programs by $600 billion and reduce other mandatory spending by $300 billion.

The GOP plan doesn't specify which tax breaks would be done away with to raise $800 billion, but Reid said it would be impossible to find the sum without ending popular tax breaks for the middle class.

“Their proposal was short on specifics but we do know from independent analysis that it is impossible to raise enough revenue and make a dent in our deficit without using one of two things — raising tax rates on the top 2 percent or raising taxes on the middle class,” Reid said.

He cited a study by the Tax Policy Center that he said “called it mathematically impossible to give tax breaks to the rich without harming the middle class.”

The framing of the nation’s deficit problem as a zero-sum game between a small number of wealthy Americans and the middle class is one that Democrats used successfully time and again on the campaign trail.

Democrats leveled a similar criticism against Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in 2011 after he submitted to the deficit-reduction supercommittee a plan to raise $250 billion by closing various tax loopholes.

Reid urged centrist Democrats and Republicans to sign a discharge petition to be introduced by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) that would force a vote in the lower chamber on a Senate-passed bill raising income tax rates on families earning more than $250,000 a year.

“Now, all Democratic House members, as far as I know, every one of them will sign this discharge petition,” Reid said. “If every Democrat signs this, we’ll only need about 25 Republicans to join.”

Reid said Democratic leaders have heard from Republican rank-and-file members in the House who "are willing to move forward."