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State Journal-Register: 'Gang of Six' Plan is Balanced

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Mr. Schwermin seems to have misrepresented the Gang of Six plan in his letter on Friday. The Gang of Six plan would require that the tax code remain at least as progressive as it is today in order to protect low and middle-income families — something that was a key goal in the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission which I co-chaired.

In the deliberations of the president’s Fiscal Commission, which I co-chaired, Sen. Dick Durbin was a strong advocate for the principles of fairness and balance in deficit reduction. Durbin fought to ensure we stuck to the principle of not doing anything in this budget that hurt the truly disadvantaged. That is why there are no cuts in the commission plan in food stamps, SSI, unemployment compensation or the other income support programs. His work and leadership helped produce a balanced plan that deserves support from citizens across the spectrum.

It’s noteworthy because it’s a bi-partisan plan that acknowledges people of all income levels except those at the bottom need to share in the sacrifices necessary to get our country’s finances back in order.

The Gang of Six is asking the most successful, wealthy citizens to contribute more while preserving programs for the most vulnerable. While the plan lowers tax rates it does not lower taxes paid for the wealthy, as Mr. Schwermin wrote, because it eliminates lots of the loopholes and earmarks in the tax code which disproportionately benefit the wealthy. These tax earmarks allow those who take them to pay less in taxes than they otherwise would. And the tax code loses so much revenue because of all these tax breaks that eliminating or scaling them back can allow us to lower rates while still increasing revenues.

I, for one, am encouraged that instead of playing politics with our economy, Durbin has been working hard with the Gang of Six and in meetings at the White House to come up with a serious, bipartisan deficit reduction proposal that reflects the principles of fairness and balance that were in the Fiscal Commission. He understands that in order to move our country forward, both political parties have to be willing to find a middle ground. It takes a lot of guts to put your name on a compromise proposal that your traditional supporters may not love. But that’s what principled compromise is, and that’s what America needs right now.

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Jul 26, 2011
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He understands that in order to move our country forward, both political parties have to be willing to find a middle ground. It takes a lot of guts to put your name on a compromise proposal that your traditional supporters may not love. But that’s what principled compromise is, and that’s what America needs right now.