This vote was on an amendment by Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would adjust the budget resolution to increase funding for special education, child care, nutrition, home heating oil subsidies and other programs. The funding increase for these programs would come from assuming an the enactment of future legislation that would eliminate certain tax cuts for individuals with incomes of more than $1 million annually.
The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2009. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.
“This amendment cannot be simpler. The wealthiest people in the country have not had it so good since the 1920s. Their incomes are soaring, while at the same time the middle class is shrinking, and we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. The time is now to begin changing our national priorities and moving this country in a different direction,” Sanders said. “This amendment restores the top income tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million a year, it raises $32.5 billion over 3 years, and invests that in our kids, including $10 billion for special education, because the time is long overdue that we kept our word regarding special education.”
Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Sanders’ amendment would not raise enough money for all the programs it would fund.
“The problem is we are in the game here, spending the same dollar three or four times, it appears,” Kyl said. “The reality is somewhere or other, somehow, more taxes would have to be raised. I don’t think the American people want to do that, particularly in the current environment.”
The Senate rejected the amendment 43-55. All but one Republican present voted against the amendment (Susan Collins of Maine). All but eight Democrats present voted for the amendment. (The most progressive Democrats voted yes.) The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have raised taxes on the most wealthy Americans and used that money to raise funding for certain social programs.