WASHINGTON--Hours before a Senate vote on a tax compromise President Obama negotiated with Republicans, freshman Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is taking an e-mail survey that supposedly he will use to decide how to vote. "I will tell you where I stand when I hear from you," Kirk said in an e-mail sent out on Monday.
Kirk incorrectly describes the deal in his e-mail, when he makes a reference, not by name to the Bush era tax cuts that would expire at the end of the year if not extended. No one--Democrat or Republican--suggested that the breaks expire and taxes go up for all income brackets. At issue is whether the tax cuts should be extended for the wealthy. Obama and Democrats had wanted to extend the break to earners with incomes below $250,000 but as part of the compromise, Obama gave that up.
Kirk's explanation is just not accurate because it is so sweeping: "While many support this bipartisan bill, some House leaders say this legislation is misguided and taxes should go up."
In any event, sending out this e-mail to solicit input--when Kirk does not even provide the varied elements of the deal, including a cut in payroll taxes for a year--an item that will impact everyone who gets a paycheck--makes this e-mail gambit by Kirk even lamer.
e-mail from Kirk:
Should Congress Enact the Bipartisan Tax Bill
In 2001 and 2003, Congress passed tax relief measures helping taxpayers across the board. Rates were lowered for low-income, middle class and upper-income Americans to help the economy recover from the downturn caused by the "Dot-com" and September 11th blows to our national income. Unfortunately, this relief is scheduled to expire New Year's eve, triggering one of the biggest tax hikes in U.S. history.
If allowed to occur, tax rates would go up for nearly all Americans who pay taxes. Low-income Americans would see their taxes go up from 10% of income to 15%. The top rate would go up from 36 to over 39%. The marriage tax penalty (charging married couples more than two singles filing independently) would reappear, along with the death tax jumping from 0% to 55%. The capital gains rate would increase from 15% to 20% coupled with dividend tax rates more than doubling for some taxpayers - hurting seniors and Americans nearing retirement most.
After a long debate, the President and Congressional leaders proposed bipartisan legislation to ensure the U.S. economy does not suffer a $4 trillion tax-hike shock and risk starting another recession. A new compromise would extend current rates for two years and reform the death tax to exempt the first $5 million, followed by a 35% tax rate. While many support this bipartisan bill, some House leaders say this legislation is misguided and taxes should go up.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK
Should Congress enact the bipartisan tax bill proposed by President Obama and Senate leaders?
I will tell you where I stand when I hear from you.
Thank you for taking the time to share your views with me on this issue. Please feel free to contact me by phone at (202) 224-2854 or (312) 886-3506, or through our website at kirk.senate.gov.
It is an honor to serve you in the Senate.
Very truly yours,