Sen. Jeff Merkley, small business reps oppose tax breaks for wealthiest

WASHINGTON — Swimming against the political tide, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley — backed by a group of small business leaders — argued Wednesday for allowing tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans to expire while extending them for people of more modest incomes.

Allowing tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to vanish Dec. 31,  while preserving them for the middle class, would be good for business and the nation’s sputtering economy, they said in a conference call. “Extending tax cuts for middle class families is extremely important,” said Merkley, who embraced the primary argument voiced by President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats and even some economists.

“If we don’t tend to our working families this economy will never recover,” he said.

Keeping money in the pocket of the sprawling middle class, they said, would boost consumer spending that economists say is essential for a recovery.