Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson is drawing on personal information this week as he criticized President Barack Obama for a proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000.
Like most Republicans, Isakson favors extending the tax cuts that are due to expire this year. They argue that the recession-weakened economy would be in worse shape without them.
Obama favors the extension, too, for all but the high-income earners. He said this week that he believes Congress should go ahead and act on the area of agreement and continue debating where they disagree. Republicans responded by describing the president’s comments as a call for a tax increase.
Isakson said the tax boost would be particularly harmful to the owners of small businesses. They would be required to pay taxes with funds that they could have used to hire additional workers, he said.
To drive home the point, he used himself as the example.
"As someone who actually ran a company in the private sector, I know that the president's proposal will have the exact opposite effect on the middle class that the president described,” said Isakson. “His proposal only adds to the problems American businesses are having. It is not a solution."
Isakson is the former head of Northside Realty, one of Georgia’s largest independent brokerages. He’s also the wealthiest member of the state’s congressional delegation, although his net worth of $6 million to $17 million is below the Senate average and only ranks 22nd highest among his colleagues.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada offered his party’s view on the Senate floor as Isakson’s attack was being sent to reporters. He called for targeted tax credits of 10 percent to small businesses when they do hire a new worker of give raises.
“Unfortunately, while Republicans agree we should cut taxes, their approach is completely different,” Reid said. “Congressional Republicans want to lavish huge, across-the-board tax breaks on billionaire hedge-fund managers and mega-rich celebrities like Donald Trump.”