In his role as head of the Democratic party’s political-messaging operation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has been one of the prominent voices in the ongoing and often heated debate in Congress over federal deficits and debt. At every turn, he has loudly accused Republicans of risking a government shutdown, or even default, in order to protect “tax breaks for the wealthy.” However, when it comes to actual tax policy — and the precise definition of the term “wealthy” — Schumer and his Democratic colleagues, most notably President Obama, don’t exactly see eye to eye.
The president has been unequivocal in his support for letting the Bush-era tax rates expire on “the wealthy” — defined as individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and households earning more than $250,000 a year. Obama’s most recent deficit plan argues that these tax rates “were unfair and unaffordable at the time they were enacted and remain so today.” The president has also proposed eliminating or reducing itemized deductions for this income group. In fact, this was how he intended to pay for the vast majority ($400 billion) of his $450 billion jobs bill.
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