Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) praised the proposal for America’s long-term fiscal health put forth by President Barack Obama today - a “millionaire tax” - which requires the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. The President has made it clear that those who can afford to pay a bit more will do so, instead of the middle class and workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

“I have said for a long time that the middle class cannot continue to shoulder the tax burden, while suffering the most from budget cuts.  I am pleased to see the President has agreed with my great concern that a $250,000 earning threshold for paying a higher tax rate would be hurtful for New Yorkers. Having the threshold at $1 million will not penalize high cost-of-living states, and will still generate the kind of revenues we need to address our long-term debt.

“The President and Congressional Democrats have offered time and time again to reach a compromise with Republicans.  Repeatedly the Republicans have refused to do so, demanding it be their way, or no way.  They have been willing to send our economy to the brink of default instead of asking the richest Americans to pay what they did back when we enjoyed budget surpluses during President Clinton’s administration.  Now, if they want to have a serious discussion about the debt, we are willing to do so, new revenues must be part of the equation.  We cannot back down and give in to their plan to destroy the middle and working class. 

“My Republican friends deride this as ‘class warfare’ because it asks the wealthy to pay more.  This is their usual refrain.  Class warfare to me is refusing to tighten tax loopholes and continuing the Bush Tax Cut levels, while the middle and working class continue to struggle.  It is class warfare to have the highest rate of poverty in our history while one percent of the country controls half the wealth.  It is class warfare to push the burden off on to states and force them to enact higher taxes, or increased fees for bridge tolls, bus and train fares, and other services.  

“If we get past this rhetoric and come together to solve these problems, only then will we get our economy where we need it to be.  I call on my Republican colleagues to join the President and Democrats in doing so.”