Schumer: Republicans ‘missed their opportunity’ for $1 million threshold

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — In 2011, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said that taxes should be raised on those making $1 million or more. But on Wednesday, he attacked Speaker of the House John Boehner’s “Plan B” proposal that would do exactly that, saying they had missed their chance and that the political landscape had now changed.

The speaker proposed Plan B on Wednesday, as a back-up plan if negotiations between him and President Barack Obama continue to stall. It would extend the Bush tax cuts for people making less than $1 million, but make the Bush tax cuts for those making under $1 million permanent.

In 2011, Schumer told Politico that “drawing the line at $1 million is the right thing to do.” But the New York senator told reporters at a press conference Wednesday that things have changed since then.

He noted that there are some differences between Plan B and the Democrats’ plan from 2011.

“But,” he said, “even if it were the same, you know, Republicans had their chance two years ago. We put it on the floor. If they would’ve voted for it we would’ve had it.”

“But you can’t turn the clock back two years,” he said. “The whole political landscape has changed. The president ran on $250,000, he won on $250,000, there was a clear break between the parties on that, the exit polls showed it was overwhelming, so you know, Republicans saying ‘two years ago this came up’ — they missed their opportunity.”

Schumer described Plan B as “simply an attempt to influence his negotiations with the president” — a tactic he said he did not think would succeed.

He criticized the plan for the fact that it “leaves too many aspects of the fiscal cliff unaddressed. Democrats do not support a kick-the-can-down-the-road strategy.”

But most importantly, he said, it amounted to a tax hike for middle-class Americans because it would not extend what he described as “three key middle-class tax breaks:” the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

“What that Plan B proposes really hits the true middle-class Americans,” Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said. “Middle-class Americans don’t make $400,000. $250,000 is the top two percent. Is that the middle class? No. The middle class is making 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars a year, and that’s the heart of the middle class. His Plan B hits right at that. They’re gonna pay more.”

“Only House Republicans could write a proposal with a million dollar income threshold and still find a way to raise taxes on the middle class,” Schumer said. “It’s the wrong approach. Even if the House passes it, it’s dead on arrival in the Senate.”

“The speaker should simply return to the negotiating table with the president because if he does, I firmly believe we could have a deal before Christmas.”

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