There are two ways to tell a story about Senator Richard Durbin‘s position on tax policy currently being discussed in the U.S. Senate. One version of the story comes from the Republicans, and takes a general tone: Senator Durbin wants to raise taxes on Americans.
Another version of this story pays attention to the details, and comes from a more progressive perspective: Senator Durbin opposes a hundred thousand dollar annual pay raise for millionaires.
This week, Senator Durbin gave a speech in which he cited a statistic calculated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: If Republicans join with Barack Obama to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, people with an annual income of one million dollars would bring home an extra $104,000.00 every year, above and beyond what they already have.
In a time of record-breaking budget deficits, it’s difficult to justify the specific outcome of a pay raise of over $100,000 for millionaires. It’s easier for Republicans simply to talk in general about tax cuts, as if they apply equally to everyone.
In response to the Republican storyline about the danger of taxes, Senator Durbin had this to say: “I wish no one had to pay any taxes. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Sign me up to say that I wish no one had to pay taxes. But the cost of this country’s governance, the building of roads, the schools, yes, the Defense Department, the payment for soldiers and weapons and so on to protect this country–all of that needs to be paid for. I hope those who decide to affix labels to various positions might well understand that to borrow a substantial portion of money to provide tax cuts when the country is up to its neck in debt is not a conservative position. It just is not.”