Holding out for ransom demands in the form of benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Senate Republicans today again refused to surrender their hostages—the nation’s economy and working families who will be hurt by the upcoming Republican sequester.
Republicans led the charge to defeat a Democratic plan that would have eliminated the across-the-board sequestration budget cuts for the remainder of 2013, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated would cost 750,000 jobs.
The bill—defeated 51-49 (it required 60 votes for passage)—would have replaced the cuts, in part, with additional tax revenue from millionaires, including adopting the “Buffett Rule,” which sets a minimum effective tax rate of 30% for taxpayers with income higher than $1 million.
In a letter to the Senate, AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel called on Congress to repeal the sequester, or at least minimize harm to the economy by raising revenue from Wall Street and the wealthiest 2%.
Samuel called on senators to pass the Democratic plan because it would:
Minimize harm to the economy and would not cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare benefits.
Samuel called on senators to repeal the sequester—as the AFL-CIO Executive Council urged yesterday—stressing that there is no economic need to replace sequestration to meet any arbitrary deficit reduction target.
The greatest economic challenge facing America today is the jobs crisis, not the deficit or the debt. Further fiscal austerity before the United States returns to full employment only would weaken the economy and cost jobs.
Samuel also said that additional tax revenue for Wall Street and the wealthiest 2% could be used to increase economic growth and reduce unemployment by investing in infrastructure, aid to state governments, rehiring teachers and modernizing schools, unemployment benefits and food stamps.
In addition to the sound economic arguments to repeal sequestration, Samuel noted another reason:
Republicans are using it as bargaining leverage to demand Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefit cuts. These demands are wildly unpopular, which is why Republican leaders keep manufacturing crises to get their way. Repealing sequestration would avoid the prospect of Republicans using this same leverage next January, and every year after that, to get their way.