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Engel Hits GOP on Tax Hypocrisy Don't Tax the Rich, Just the Middle Class

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Eliot Engel pummeled Republicans for supporting increased taxes on middle income people while demanding that the rich be left alone.

He said it was condescending of GOP budget guru Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to dismiss a payroll tax holiday helping middle class people as nothing but "sugar-high economics," and mega-rich presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying he "would prefer to see the payroll tax cut on the employer side," instead of for the employee.

To quote Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post:

"America's presumably anti-tax party wants to raise your taxes. Come January, the Republicans plan to raise the taxes of anyone who earns $50,000 a year by $1,000, and anyone who makes $100,000 by $2,000.

"Their tax hike doesn't apply to income from investments. It doesn't apply to any wage income in excess of $106,800 a year. It's the payroll tax that they want to raise -- to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent of your paycheck, a level established for one year in December's tax deal at Democrats' insistence. Unlike the capital gains tax, or the low tax rates for the rich included in the Bush tax cuts, or the carried interest tax for hedge fund operators (which is just 15 percent), the payroll tax chiefly hits the middle class and the working poor."

Workers normally pay 6.2 percent of their wages designated for Social Security. Their employer pays an equal amount, for a total of 12.4 percent per worker. The lower rate of 4.2 percent gives working families an estimated extra $1,000 a year to spend. President Obama wants Congress to extend the reduction for an additional year. If not, the rate will return to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1.

Rep. Engel said, "Many of the same Republicans who threatened to close the government to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring now say this tax-cut should end.

"By any definition, especially a Republican one, this is a tax increase. The difference is, it doesn't affect the wealthy, just the middle and working classes. This tax-cut helps the 47 percent of all Americans who owe no federal income taxes but who pay a "payroll tax" on practically every dime they earn. It hardly affects the 400 richest families who now hold as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of the country combined.

It also does not close the corporate tax loopholes so dear to Republican hearts. The hypocrisy of Republicans fighting a middle class tax cut while protecting these tax loopholes is beyond belief."

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