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Jeff Sessions: Saying Millionaires Should Share Pain Is 'Rather Pathetic'

First Posted: 07/05/11 07:27 PM ET Updated: 09/04/11 06:12 AM ET

Sessions

WASHINGTON -- Having the Senate declare that millionaires should share more of the pain involved in putting America's financial house in order is "rather pathetic," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) declared Tuesday.

The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee made that pronouncement after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) bowed to GOP pressure and yanked from the floor a resolution on U.S. military action in Libya in favor of moving to budget issues.

Reid's first measure in that direction is a non-binding resolution that states: "It is the sense of the Senate that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort."

The measure describes how well the wealthy have done lately, citing statistics that say the median income of S&P 500 companies chief financial officers jumped $2.9 million last year alone, even though the "median family income has declined by more than $2,500" in the last 10 years.

The resolution also notes that 20 percent all income goes to the top 1 percent, and 80 percent of the nation's income growth over the last quarter century has also gone to the top 1 percent.

Sessions and his colleagues found expression of such ideas of little use, and said it only delays getting around to major cuts.

"It's a sense of the Senate," Sessions scoffed. "We're supposed to have legislation in place by Aug. 2 to deal with raising the debt limit -- and that's got to be real numbers and real figures."

"So I guess we can say we're beginning to talk about something with this rather pathetic response from the majority leader," he said. "I'm not happy about that."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) was equally unimpressed, but suggested it was a sign Democrats were getting ready to listen to the GOP.

"While today, obviously, we're not going to have anything really serious to talk about -- it's just a sense of the Senate -- my sense is that very quickly we're going to have something before us that actually is real," Corker said.

UPDATE: 9 p.m.

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson commented: "Apparently, nothing irritates Republicans more than the prospect that millionaires and billionaires might be asked to share in the burden of deficit reduction."

UPDATE: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Sessions spokesman Stephen Miller clarified: “What Sen. Sessions called ‘pathetic’ was the Majority Leader’s Sense of the Senate resolution that is as misleading as it is toothless—one more distraction from our mounting crisis of spending and debt. Republicans pressured Reid into cancelling recess to do serious work—not bring up gimmicks.”

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