Alex Sink on fiscal cliff negotiations: "Difficult to understand Republicans defending tax cuts to top 2%"

Posted by Mitch Perry on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM

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Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink says the public's patience wih the fiscal cliff negotiations is wearing thin, and that Republicans should consent to President Obama's call for extending the Bush tax cuts for all but the top 2 percent of Americans.

The once and possibly future Democratic nominee for governor spoke to reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning, another indication that she wants to keep herself in the news as she contemplates a run for the Democratic nomination in 2014.

"It's difficult to understand how the Republican Party and the Congress in Washington can be defending the top 2 percent of the wealthiest of Americans and causing the other 98 percent of Americans to be subject to these potential tax increases," Sink said.

She said there's been a lot of rhetoric about the inevitability of "walking" over the fiscal cliff if there is no agreement (the biggest bold-faced name to suggest that was President Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, although Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson has also made such comments). But the former Florida CFO fears that sequestration — the automatic budget cuts that would result — would be devastating to the state's military community and to those who rely on social services.

Sequestration would kick in if the two parties can't come to an agreement by December 31. The cuts to defense and domestic spending would be severe — something that Congress intentionally put in place in order to force an agreement by year's end.

The New York Times reported today that in addition to there being a $600 billion difference between the president and House Speaker John Boehner on the amount of revenues to be increased over the next 10 years, Boehner wants the president to commit to two points that he allegedly agreed to during the summer of 2011, when the two were close to making a "grand bargain."

Those negotiating items are an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, and a new formula that would reduce cost-of living increases for Social Security.

Former CFO Sink says she's confident that President Obama is willing to make "some concessions that are reasonable," but said as someone getting close to the Medicare eligibility age, she's not sure that she supports the GOP's call for raising the age of eligibility. "My approach would be more to look at the overall Medicare budget, because I believe that there are billions of dollars worth of savings that can be - inefficiencies that we can identify in the Medicare system before we have to extend the age of eligibility for Medicare."

Joining Sink on the conference call (arranged by a group called The Action), was Tallahassee-based schoolteacher Erin Lombardo. She said the $2,200 difference in her household's taxes "could be the difference between traveling to see family over the holidays or buying gifts for loved ones or not. These are real decisions that families would have to make."

The fight over the so-called fiscal cliff makes it appear as if the presidential campaign hasn't really ended. In addition to calls like this sponsored by groups supportive of President Obama and his position, the Karl Rove-led super PAC Crossroads GPS is now airing its second round of television ads pressuring a handful of Democratic Senators.

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