Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, asserted that Democrats should cancel plans the largest tax hike in history at the end of the year. At this point, income tax rates are scheduled to increase for all Americans, dividend tax rates are scheduled to increase to the tax levels of general income (a move that will devastate the nation’s retirees), capital gains tax rates are set to rise, and the death tax will return at its absurd level of 55 percent (which breaks up family businesses and costs American jobs).
Conrad cited chronic unemployment and turmoil in European debt markets as reasons to remain circumspect about the tax increases. “As a general rule, you don't want to be cutting spending or raising taxes in the midst of a downturn,” Conrad said. “At the same time, we know that very soon we've got to pivot and focus on the deficit," he said. "But it probably is too soon to cut spending or raise taxes.”
In speaking out on behalf of the American taxpayer, Conrad represents the most senior Democrat to call for extension of the present tax rates as he serves as the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and sits on the tax-writing Finance Committee. By doing so, he stands in contrast to President Barack Obama, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi, all of whom have asserted their desires to extend the rates to middle class families while soaking the rich. He has been joined in doing so in the Senate by Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who supports extending the tax rates now to preserve economic stability and recovery. Moreover, House Democrats like Rep. Michael McMahon of New York, who said that “we're not creating jobs, and raising taxes now would not be a great idea,” and Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who said that “I think the recovery is sufficiently fragile that we ought to leave tax rates where they are,” indicate a trend of Democrats seeing the prudence of not raising taxes now.
Yet the proclaimed aspirations of the Democratic leadership leave something to be desired in comparison with those protesting this tax hike, given that Obama has already broken his pledge not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 and given that Reid and Pelosi have had a Democratic Congress since 2008 and have done nothing to prevent the tax hike except extend non-binding promises. Perhaps Conrad’s decision to act prudently along with Nelson and half a dozen House Democrats may send a message to his superiors that they have become alienated from both good policy and public sentiment.