Seniors tell Sen. Baucus: tax rich

2011-09-20T04:30:00Z Seniors tell Sen. Baucus: tax richThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 20, 2011 4:30 am  • 

HELENA - U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, seeking ideas Monday for the congressional deficit reduction supercommittee, told seniors he agrees a tax hike for higher-income earners is needed in conjunction with budget cuts. 

The senator's office said about 14,000 Montana seniors joined the town hall teleconference.

Several spoke in favor of a tax hike on the wealthy, generally an approach favored by President Barack Obama and some Democrats. Others also worried deficit reduction plans could include spending cuts that would hurt Social Security or other key programs.

Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said cuts are needed but Social Security will remain off the chopping block because it is not part of the nation's near-term spending deficit problem.

On Monday, Obama laid out a plan for $1.5 trillion in new taxes as part of a total 10-year deficit reduction package totaling more than $3 trillion. His proposal would also reduce spending in mandatory benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Republican leaders have countered that the deficit supercommittee should not consider tax increases.

Baucus was asked what he thought about the president's plan.

"I think the president is on the right track by saying we have a huge problem," Baucus said. "The best way to get the deficit down is to reduce spending, but you also have to increase revenue."

Baucus said the super-committee will be making its own judgments and offering its own plan. He said the biggest hurdle will be reaching through the partisanship of Washington, D.C., to get Republicans and Democrats to agree on a package. 

"I hope we in Congress working together, because that is what it takes, working together, can find a solution where higher income Americans pay more of their fair share," Baucus told one caller.

Others on the call urged Baucus to help speed approval of an oil pipeline through eastern Montana as a way to spur the economy. They also want him to find other ways to reduce the cost of oil and to support bringing troops back from overseas wars to save money.

Themes favored by conservatives also came up on occasion.

One man said "Obamacare" health reforms were taking all his money. A woman asked Baucus to stop sending foreign aid to other countries while the U.S. continues to borrow its own money.

Baucus said foreign aid is only about 1 percent of the federal budget and would do little to ease the spending deficit.

Baucus also advocated a rewrite of the tax code to make it simpler by getting rid of many credits, loopholes and deductions.

"It is just way too complicated. It is unfair. We need to clean it up and make it much more simple," he said.

Baucus, answering a question from a woman concerned about the growing gap between the wealthy and poor, said a revamped tax code could help.

"We have to work on that disparity, and one way is through the tax code. Not the only way, but certainly one way," Baucus said.

The 12-member supercommittee has until Thanksgiving to approve $1.5 trillion in 10-year budget savings through a combination of spending cuts or tax increases. If Congress doesn't approve at least $1.2 trillion in debt reduction by Christmas, automatic spending cuts will be triggered, affecting hundreds of government programs.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. jhburton
    Report Abuse
    jhburton - September 20, 2011 5:38 pm
    There isn't a shortage of revenue; there is an overage of spending.

    The government needs to cut spending immediately, dramatically reduce corporate incomtaxes, and reduce regulatory oversight.

    The government, as led by the Democrats, is the biggest impediment to achieving sustained financial growth.

    We need less spending and fewer Democrats.
  2. Realist777
    Report Abuse
    Realist777 - September 20, 2011 1:50 pm
    This is simply more revenue for government employees. The government asking the private sector for MORE. It does not address spending cuts to reduce our nation's debt and does nothing to create jobs in the private sector, where REAL jobs are created. Obama is either completely incompetent or he knows exactly what he's doing. Think about that for a while and you'll discover that both assumptions are downright alarming.
    This much is true: you have been lied to, robbed, and used by your own government—the people you elected into office and the people you should be able to trust. The government is expanding, taxes are increasing, inflation is ballooning, and our basic freedoms are disappearing. Enough is enough. It is time for a revolution. Ron Paul 2012.
  3. acommoner
    Report Abuse
    acommoner - September 20, 2011 10:26 am
    More taxes to pay interest to foreigners on our debt are not the key. The key to sustainable recovery is the return of manufacturing (maker) jobs to the USA. US American Jobs will not return to the USA until our Local Governments adopts a policy of County Wide Fair Free Trade Zones. Where all products and/or services offered for sale/use in “The Zone” (be it county, state, or nation) must be produced and/or provided in accordance with all USA; quality, safety, health, environment and wage standards, and no one is even talking about that option. Go to: > Fair Free Trade

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