Guest column: The middle class is not a bargaining chip

Sue Dvorsky

Over the past weeks the middle class has been held hostage by Chuck Grassley and his Republican colleagues in the Senate. Why? To stand with millionaires and billionaires.

While thousands of Iowans braced for not only an immediate loss of unemployment benefits, but a tax increase in the new year, Republicans used them to get what they wanted. For those Iowans still out of work, unemployment benefits are essential to their well being. Whether it’s putting food on their table, buying boots and mittens for their kids, or putting gas in their tank, they have always had a partner in the government as they look for another job.

Republicans chose to exploit this partnership and turn a struggling middle class into a bargaining chip as they continue to stand up for the richest one percent of Americans, and against hard working families.

If Republicans were allowed to continue their abuse of Senate rules, our economic recovery would have been put at risk as well. Aside from the wide agreement that unemployment benefits are one of the most effective ways to spur economic growth, Republicans were leading the nation into a situation which would cripple our economic recovery by shedding over a million jobs and leaving the unemployed on their own.

Thankfully, Democrats have put a framework for compromise in place and are working to protect the middle class. As it stands, Democrats have secured a $120 billion tax cut for working families and an additional tax credit for 10 million lower income Americans. In addition, the compromise plan includes freezing college tuition for 8 million students through the American Opportunity Tax Credit and extending the Child Tax Credit, saving families up to $1,000 per child.

It’s clear which party is standing up for the middle class.

While the details of the compromise bill are being sculpted and debated over the coming days, we cannot lose this context. We all know compromise is part of governing, but holding a majority of Americans hostage to force a deal that benefits the few is not. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across Iowa must remember that Republicans, including Senator Grassley, used the middle class to get their way and force a compromise.

Such cravenly political tactics show a disregard for the hard working Iowans whose jobs, livelihoods, and well being were at stake. Voters will not forget that.

Sue Dvorsky is the chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party

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