WASHINGTON (CN) – Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., held an all-day filibuster on the Senate floor Friday in opposition to President Obama’s proposal to extend tax cuts for two years for middle- and upper-income earners.
“We’re caving in on this and we should not be,” said Sanders, who calls himself an independent progressive. “Obama’s credibility has been severely damaged.”
On Monday, Obama announced that he had reached a compromise with Republicans that would extend 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for two years. The tax breaks are slated to expire Dec. 31. Letting them expire would cause a $3,000 tax hike for the typical American family, according to a White House report.
Obama’s proposal includes a 2 percent payroll tax cut, which would result in lower Social Security taxes and more take-home pay for American workers.
The proposal would also extend unemployment benefits for 13 months and lower the estate tax to 35 percent.
Sanders argued that only a tiny sliver of the wealthiest Americans – three-tenths of 1 percent – pay estate taxes.
“The Republicans have done a very good job of totally distorting this issue,” he said, explaining that the tax only applied to holdings after the first $5 million of an estate.
He also slammed Republicans for their support of extending tax cuts for American families making $250,000 or more.
“It’s not a conservative approach to substantially increase the national debt by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he doubted that Obama would let tax breaks expire for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans two years from now. Obama has said he does not support permanently extending tax breaks for the wealthy and will continue to fight against their extension.
“If we can’t do it now … what makes you think we can do it in the midst of a presidential election?” Sanders asked.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., voiced support for Sanders’ stance on Friday, saying in a floor speech that the measure “borders on moral recklessness” and is “in-your-face to the middle class.”
The Senate will vote on the tax cut proposal next week.