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What Minnesota’s Democrats want in a ‘fiscal-cliff’ deal

WASHINGTON — The state’s Democratic members of Congress have a long, and sometimes conflicting, list of desires and demands for a “fiscal-cliff” deal.

Hundreds of lawmakers are sitting on Capitol Hill holding out for an agreement palatable to their ideologies.
REUTERS/Larry Downing
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Rep. Keith Ellison: What I’m opposed to is requiring the most vulnerable people in our community — seniors, the aged, people who are sick and really can’t work — I don’t think they should have to pay for the fiscal problems of our society. They didn’t cause them, and they shouldn’t have to bear the brunt. No, I’m not going to ask families who depend upon Medicaid to send their family member into a nursing home, or worse, so that somebody else can preserve their tax cut.

Rep. Tim Walz
Rep. Tim Walz

Rep. Tim Walz: But I do think [entitlement spending] needs to be a big component of it. I think the president, obviously, has set out a bigger revenue component than this, and we’ll reach somewhere in there, but I’m still convinced with the “go big” approach, and now there is leverage there to do it.

Rep. Collin Peterson: I told my constituents during the election: I can’t tell you what this is going to look like. All I can tell you is this: you’re all going to pay more, and you’re all going to get less. And that’s what’s going to happen at some point, maybe before Christmas, maybe next year, whenever it is, but at the end of the day, nobody is going to be exempt. We’re going to have to fix this.

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Klobuchar: Our own military commanders have suggested some of the things that can be done, like the F-22 Raptor program, the F-35 Alternate Engine Program. … There are cuts to me made here, and we can do it without doing it on the backs of the middle class.

I think the other thing most people don’t talk about is the farm bill. That’s a $23 billion reduction over the last farm bill over 10 years [in the Senate version].

Peterson: There is some talk about [the farm bill], but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough money that anybody really cares enough about it.

Walz: I certainly always believe in a progressive tax code. That you’re going to pay a little bit more at the top, for one thing is, not just because you have the ability, but in many cases you benefit more from it.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Ellison: The reality is, is that we’ve seen three decades of this country thinking that if we cut taxes for the richest people, then they would use the extra money to invest [in the economy]. This has never worked. It’s time to stop that.

Peterson: I’m not against it, but that may not be enough. I don’t know that you get there by only raising rates on the wealthy.

Walz: One thing that I wanted to pass and one that I would argue is something we could agree on is mortgage interest deduction on yachts. … That’s silly, because I think that all of us know the argument that people will not buy a yacht because they don’t get the mortgage interest deduction is ludicrous.

Ellison: I think if we want to make sure that retailers like Best Buy can stay competitive, we might want to look at some kind of online sales tax. … [And a] financial transaction tax … $50 on $10,000 worth of stock trades.

Franken: I could see, again, doing stuff on dividends, on capital gains. You saw [Mitt] Romney make $20-some million last year and paid 14 percent on it. I think something like the Buffett Rule, where if you make over $1 million you have to pay a certain percentage of your net income in taxes.

Klobuchar: One example would be the oil subsidy, which is $40 billion over 10 years. … I’ve talked about how you can cap the home mortgage deduction at a $500,000 value on a home.

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Franken: I would prefer that we give some kind of certainty to people and to the markets. That’s why I pushed to, and why we passed in the Senate, the extension of the Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000. So let’s take care of that, let’s make sure that we’re not going to have a fiscal cliff.

Klobuchar: I think we’d like to avoid that. I think the American people spoke loud and clear: They want us to come together toward a solution that balances cuts and revenues.

Peterson: I’m concerned about that because of the effect it would have on the markets. I don’t think we should be promoting that. … This is going to come down to whether Boehner and Obama can make a deal that they can sell. That’s the bottom line.