As efforts continue in the nation's Capitol to find a legislative fix to the "fiscal cliff" this week, Congressman Murphy surveyed his constituents via an electronic survey and a live Telephone Town Hall to share the latest news, solicit ideas and gather feedback on what policies Congress should adopt to prevent automatic tax hikes and spending cuts from hurting the economy.
Murphy circulated information on President Obama's proposal to replace the looming tax hikes and automatic spending cuts with the following: raising taxes by $1.6 trillion over ten years on individuals with an income of more than $200k and couples with income over $250k; maintaining current rates for income earners making below $200k or $250k per couple; continuation of long-term unemployment benefits; approval of $50 billion in new stimulus infrastructure spending; government assistance to refinance "underwater" mortgages; and allowing the President the authority to raise the debt ceiling at his discretion without congressional approval.
In an e-mail survey sent on Monday, Rep. Murphy asked whether his constituents supported the President's plan, and of the thousands responding 69.6% voted "NO' while 30.4% said "YES,' they did support the President's plan.
During Tuesday's Town Hall, Congressman Murphy also asked the thousands participating on the call their thoughts on whether or not they felt a deficit reduction package should include "only tax increases, only spending cuts, a mixture of both, or none at all." Overwhelmingly, 62 percent of constituents thought that "a mixture of both" was appropriate. 24 percent believed cutting spending only was the solution, 6 percent agreed tax increases only would be best, and 8 percent told Murphy no changes were necessary.
Towards the end of the call, Murphy also asked, "If there was a tax increase, should it be on filers making more than $250k, $500k or $1 million per year? Or, should there be no tax hikes?" Those who supported tax increases in the package were split on whether or not an increase should hit filers making 250k or up to one million dollars, while 19 percent of residents believed a legislative package to avert the cliff should not have any tax hikes.
President Obama and Congressional leaders are in continued conversations on a final legislative package to be considered in both chambers of Congress as an up-or-down vote. In a counteroffer this week, House Speaker John Boehner presented a plan based on bipartisan reforms suggested by Erskine Bowles, who served as President Clinton's White House Chief of Staff and was recently appointed by President Obama to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
The Speaker's plan called for the following: $800 billion in new government revenue through changes to the tax code like limiting deductions for individuals and couples making more than $200,000 and $250,000 respectively; $600 billion in health savings and changes to the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation to help determine cost-of-living adjustments for government pensions and Social Security; an additional $600 billion in spending cuts to be evenly split between benefit programs and budgets for about 1,100 federal agencies.
As he discussed in Tuesday's telephone town hall, Congressman Murphy reiterated his commitment to share with congressional leadership the feedback he is getting from his constituents as leaders work together to find a solution before the end of the year. The Congressman also pledged to keep working with his colleagues on a plan that can pass muster with both chambers of Congress to cut spending, close loopholes, tackle the deficit and stop tax hikes on the middle class.