Barbara Lee, black caucus blast Obama’s tax plan

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee has disagreed before with President Barack Obama, whom she toiled to help elect, but rarely has the rhetoric been this heated.

Lee and CBC newser 12-10-10 (AP Photo)Lee, D-Oakland, and other caucus members held a news conference this morning on Capitol Hill to voice their opposition to the President’s tax plan. Lee afterward said she’s particularly angry about the President’s acquiescence to extending the Bush tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 per year, and to both lowering the estate tax’s top rate and raising its exemption amount.

“You put those together and this is an assault on the working poor and middle-income people,” Lee said. “What is so outrageous about this whole thing is we know the pain and suffering people are going through right now as a result of the bush era tax cuts.”

Such a plan means cuts from programs that people need most during these hard economic times, as well as damaging Social Security by temporarily lowering the payroll taxes workers pay into it, she said. “The American Dream is going to continue to be eroded for so many people.”

“We’re working on it, its not like were just saying ‘no,’” she added. “We’re working on some reasonable way out of this that’s not going to create more income inequality in terms of our tax structure.”

The CBC’s alternative plan, unveiled during its press conference, includes a 13-month extension of Emergency Unemployment Insurance Benefits plus more aid for those Americans who have been unable to find work for more than 99 weeks; a payroll tax holiday or equivalent payment, such as a tax-rebate check, with guarantees that Social Security won’t be deprived of revenue; and targeted tax relief through a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for hardworking middle- and low-income families and extending the enhanced provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Members said the CBC proposal will cost less than half of the President’s proposed trillion-dollar compromise.

Most of the Bay Area’s House delegation has spoken out against the President’s plan, but not Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who was the only local member to vote last week against the Democrats’ plan to extend the tax cuts for the middle class but not for the rich. His office didn’t immediately respond to a query today as to where he stands on the President’s plan.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    She steals from the Rich and gives to the Poor, that’s Robin Hood Lee. Yes, Lee “helped” elect Obama by cleverly limiting her speeches to the Bay Area. Her hatred of the successful and well-to-do is breathtaking. I suppose the many professionals who contribute to her campaigns will leave all their wealth to the Deserving Poor rather than their own family and friends.

  • John W

    She’s been mentioned as somebody who could challenge Obama for the nomination. Obama should pray she does.

  • ted ford

    Sister Soulijah

  • Phuzzy

    Can you imagine the flack that would be created if we had a Congressional White Caucus? I am so sick of this racism.

  • Phuzzy

    The CBC??? I wonder how much flack a Congressional White Caucus would draw. End the racism folks.

  • John W

    Oh jeez, how I love the concept of “reverse racism.” We whites have been such legacy victims of slavery, Jim Crow, prejudice, being pulled over for DWW (driving while white), the hopeless vortex of poverty, violence and crummy schools that characterize life in the suburbs, being viewed with suspicion if two or more of our youth are seen together on the sidewalk, under-representation in the seats of power. Yup, everything’s equal now. How dare these uppity folks form a caucus to keep us white folk down! All that other stuff is ancient history. Except maybe for the small town in Georgia where I lived in the 1974, where the only doctor in town still had “white” and “colored” waiting areas.

  • Laura Sanborn

    Well said John W.

    When whites face the lingering effects of hundreds of years of racist oppression, and still face racist discrimination, then perhaps there will be a need for a Congressional White Caucus.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    The caucus exists for the same reason as the Lions Club or Kiwanis, to do some good for the community and get together for good times and camaraderie. If the caucus disappeared nobody would notice. It was needed 50 years ago when A. C. Powell faced racism from his colleagues in Congress along with bigotry outside the Capitol. Today the caucuses are largely self-congratulatory, useless bodies that exist to grab attention and hold an endless stream of luncheons, dinners and press briefings.

  • John W

    Re # 8

    Can’t disagree with what RR said as to what the present day CBC is all about. I just react strongly to stupid remarks suggesting that its very existence is some sort of reverse racism or that even the occasional excesses of the black community in seeking special entitlements are in any way the equivalent of the virulent bigotry that unfortunately still rears its ugly head in the 21st Century.

  • Common Tater

    Isn’t the CBC all about racial profiling, mebbe?

  • unemployed1

    As a lifelong conservative from Southern California I commend Rep. Lee and the CBC for their support of all Americans in need during these difficult times. By Feb. 2011 there will be over four million 99ers with no life line. Our problems as a nation go far beyond black or white. We’d better start focusing on current issues in this country or there won’t be any future for children if we can’t feed and cloth them now.

  • John W

    Re: #10

    Identity politics, yes. Racial profiling, no. The former has (or can have) a positive connotation — to champion the heritage, culture or political interests of a defined group, be they Boston Irish, women, gays, Latino or black. The latter places you under extra scrutiny or suspicion based primarily on race or nationality. It may be prudent and necessary in some cases, as in national security; but it’s a necessary evil at best.

  • Common Tater

    Yeh, the Boston Irish Caucus would have a smooth road being active in the legislature……….

  • I am absolutely disappointed with the Democratic party of which I have been all of my adult life. The very audacity that various Democratic law-makers are upset that the President struck a compromise which is in the best interest of this nation is pitiful.
    If the Democrats, who have had the absolute majority for two years, with a Democratic President, had gotten off the lazy duffs and done more than social posturing, the President would not have been forced into a corner.
    The Democrats, who seem to look for ways to muck things up, should be ashamed to be even think about a filibuster.
    Please don’t tell me the Democrats have been hampered by the economy problem, because that is only a cop-out. With an overwhelming majority, they could have forced many issues. It seems the party does not understand the concept of fighting, when wimping out is so comfortable.
    Good luck to the Democrats as they sit back and watch the Republicans run over them for the next two or more years.
    It is just pathetic!

  • John W

    Re: #13

    That’s sorta what they did in the political arena during the first half of the last century. Highly successful too.