California Democrat Garamendi takes on Obama over taxes

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 14, 2010 

WASHINGTON — Barely a year after taking office, California Democratic Rep. John Garamendi is criticizing his party's president in no uncertain terms, accusing him of backing "the fabulously wealthy."

He says President Barack Obama is leading "a foolish war" in Afghanistan.

And he says many House Democrats aren't just frustrated — they're angry — with Obama's latest cooperation with the GOP on a tax plan that would continue across-the-board cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush.

"That tax policy that was started in 2001 and is now being proposed by our Republican colleagues and our president is a continuation of the drift — excuse me, it's not a drift — a cascade of wealth from the middle class — from the working men and women — to the wealthiest Americans," Garamendi said.

Garamendi proposed an alternative plan that would save $70 billion by extending for only year tax cuts to those who earn more than $250,000 annually. He suggested using $50 billion of the savings to hire a million teachers and the remaining $20 billion for school building renovations and construction.

And the war, Garamendi said, is too expensive and needs to end.

"We're spending $100 billion a year in Afghanistan and eventually we're going to leave," he said. "And at the end of the day the Afghans are going to do what the Afghans are going to do. We would be better off spending that $100 billion on education, building our economy, doing infrastructure. … This war was foolish to begin with and the president extending the war is off target."

Garamendi and 53 other House Democrats, including Doris Matsui and Mike Thompson on California, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the tax plan "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."

"This proposal will hurt, not help, the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard to get there," the representatives said in their letter.

California Republican Rep. Dan Lungren said Garamendi's tax plan would hurt job creation. He said many of those who earn more than $250,000 a year own small businesses.

"Those who want to create jobs are exactly the ones that we don't want to raise taxes on," Lungren said. "There are some on the Democratic side who have the mindset that if you allow those who are the job creators to keep the money, somehow that's unfair, when most economists would say right now those are precisely the people you want to have with the incentives to invest and continue to use that money to create jobs."

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