Sen. Joe Lieberman Wednesday rejected both Republican and Democratic tax plans, saying neither one would help balance the budget.
The Republican plan failed. But with the support of Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and 50 other Democrats, the Democratic plan squeaked by on a 51-48 vote. Vice President Joe Biden presided over the Senate, ready to cast a tie-breaking vote if needed.
The Democratic plan would raise taxes on individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year and on couples earning more than $250,000. It would also raise the top capital gains tax from 15 percent to 20 percent.
The Republican plan that failed to win a majority would extend the tax cuts for all taxpayers — including the wealthiest Americans — and includes a requirement that Congress tackle comprehensive tax reform within a year.
Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he voted “no”on both plans because “neither the Democratic or Republican plans do what this country needs.”
Lieberman said the deeply partisan debate on taxes prevents action “on the broken federal fiscal system.”
He also said shared sacrifice is needed to balance the budget.
“Sure, the people who are making more should pay more in revenue, but I think we are at a point where we can’t simply say to the middle class they don’t have to give anything else. I think that would be wrong,” Lieberman said.
Although it was approved by the Senate, the Democratic tax plan would not survive the Republican-led House.
But the debate on the Bush-era tax breaks is expected to be campaign fodder for all federal candidates, including those running for the White House.