Ohio Democratic coalition pushes for tax increase for rich

By David Skolnick

By David Skolnick



A group of Democratic organizations wants to persuade Ohio Republicans in Congress to support the president’s plan to avoid going off the so-called “fiscal cliff” by raising federal income-tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

But officials with Ohio Action Coalition said Tuesday in an interview with The Vindicator’s editorial board that they haven’t been successful.

“To date, there has not been a Republican member of the Ohio delegation who’s been supportive of this position,” said Joanne Pickrell, director of the coalition.

The coalition backing the president includes Innovation Ohio, America Votes and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative as well as some organized-labor members and former Barack Obama campaign staffers.

Dale Butland, the coalition’s spokesman, said he thinks “it’s very realistic” to persuade one or two Ohio Republican congressional members to change their minds, particularly if a deal isn’t struck by the Jan. 1 deadline.

If no deal is reached by the first of the year, the President George W. Bush-era tax cuts will expire.

The average middle-class family would pay about $2,200 a year more in taxes if the Bush tax cuts aren’t continued.

Obama wants to keep the tax cuts for all but the richest 2 percent in the nation.

What often is misunderstood about Obama’s position is that under his plan, everyone would continue to receive a tax cut on the first $250,000 they earn annually, Butland said. The increased tax rates would be for money earned over $250,000, he said.

Republicans want to keep the tax cuts for all Americans, close tax loopholes and limit deductions.

Butland said Republicans aren’t specific about how that would be done, and not enough could be raised to make a serious cut.

The two sides are negotiating.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, said raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent would pay for nine days of federal spending.

“The looming fiscal cliff” is the “last thing struggling families and businesses need thrown at them during an already hurting economy,” Portman said. “Rather than kicking the can down the road, Washington should seize this moment to work together to address the underlying sources of our nation’s fiscal hole and tackle the root causes of our weak economic growth.”

That includes reforming the national tax code and entitlement programs, he said.

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