Third District Congressional candidate David Whitaker is calling on national Democrats to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for middle-class Americans but “roll back those for the very wealthy.”
Whitaker, a Democrat, faces Republican Steve Womack in the November race to succeed U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Rogers, as the next 3rd District Congressman. Boozman is leaving the post for the U.S. Senate race against U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
“It’s time for us to get our priorities straight, and the economic focus back on the middle class,” Whitaker said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. “It’s obvious that with record deficits, we have to make hard decisions. I fully support retaining the tax cuts for middle class Americans, but when it comes to tax breaks for the rich, we’ve got to say enough is enough.”
The tax cuts were part of a broad bill (Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003) reducing rates for a wide range of taxes, including individual income, capital gains, dividends and estate taxes. To gain approval, Bush and Republicans in Congress agreed to a provision allowing the cuts to expire at the end of 2010.
Democrats are leaning toward a plan that would extend most of the cuts, but push the tax rates back up for higher-income groups. Republicans argue that tax increases should not be allowed as the nation struggles to emerge from the deepest national recession since the Great Depression.
Whitaker says more than 98% of all small business-owners fall into tax brackets that would keep their tax breaks under the proposed Democratic plan. He also says a small number of Arkansans will see tax rates rise under the plan.
“Less than two percent of Arkansas households will be affected by this change, and it’s time that we prioritize middle-class families and small-business owners.” Whitaker said in the statement. “In my Congressional office, we’re always going to put working families first. Contrast that with my opponent, who will go to bat every day for his millionaire friends that write his campaign checks.”
Womack said he does receive campaign support from some of the wealthy in northwest Arkansas, but says the debate should be about doing everything possible to create jobs.
“It’s real easy in this debate on the Bush tax cuts to make it out to be about me pandering to the wealthy. But I’ve said all along that my number one concern is about jobs. A tax increase in a bad economy is not the answer. This is not the type of environment for tax increases at any level,” Womack said. “This is not about taking care of the wealthy. This is about doing whatever we can to preserve jobs. Unemployment could soon hover into double digits. … And I am concerned right now that we are just not creating enough jobs in this country.”
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