[On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Senate voted on competing Democratic and Republican plans to extend a variety of tax cuts set to expire in January. The Democratic bill would continue tax cuts through 2013 for everyone but individuals earning more than $200,000 annually and couples making more than $250,000. The Republican bill would extend more tax breaks to the highest earners and raise taxes on 25 million middle-class households while adding nearly $1 trillion more to the national debt. Tonight the Senate defeated the Republican plan and approved the Democratic plan, the Middle Class Tax Relief Bill, in a vote of 51 to 48. The roll call vote was Senator Patrick Leahy's 14,000th in the U.S. Senate, more than have been cast by all but six other senators in its history.]
"Over the past four years, federal taxes have been cut for middle-class families and small businesses all over America. Congress has approved and President Obama has signed into law 18 tax cuts for small businesses, and a payroll tax cut for all American workers and their families, putting an extra $1000 each year in the typical Vermont family's pocket. That is why I proudly supported the Democratic bill that ensures the typical middle-class family of four will not see their taxes raised by $2200 next year.
"Yet while hardworking Vermont families and small businesses struggle to make ends meet in a difficult economy, fairness in our tax code has continued to erode, benefitting the wealthiest one percent at the expense of the rest of the country. Over the past decade, multi-millionaires have benefited the most from the Bush-era tax cuts that I opposed. Today a large proportion of millionaires pay a smaller percentage of their income than do a large share of America's working families. Even more troubling, the Bush economic policies did not trickle down to help those most in need -- especially during the recent downturn in our economy. Unfortunately this Republican plan offered nothing but more of the same, which is why I opposed it.
"As we continue grappling with large budget deficits worsened by the Bush tax cuts and two overseas wars that were not paid for, it just makes sense that those hurting the most should be offered a helping hand, and those who have benefitted the most should shoulder a fairer share of the burden. We must have more balance in our tax system."