12/13/2012 02:42 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2013

Don't Sacrifice the Middle Class on the Fiscal Cliff

The American public made it clear on November 6: Their top priorities are good jobs and a demand-driven, full recovery from the worst economic crisis to hit the country since the Great Depression.

With the so-called "fiscal cliff" looming, we have to ensure that any grand bargain rejects damaging cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. It must ensure that the most affluent among us pay their fair share and it must reduce income inequality. It must put Americans back to work and shore up the middle class.

And we must be prepared to accept no deal at all in the short term to get the best deal in the long term.

Last month, I, along with like-minded senators, communicated to Leader Reid and President Obama to urge that any deal on the so-called cliff reflects these core principles.

The principles that drove President Obama's outstanding victory last month are the same principles I believe should be included in the bargains currently being discussed. It's our job to protect and promote, not harm, our real job creators -- the middle class and those striving to join it.

Here is how I propose we do it:

  1. Reject damaging cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to stand by the middle class and protect critical lifelines for working families.
  2. Allow tax breaks for the wealthiest two percent to expire and close loopholes benefiting only the wealthy and corporations. The economy grows best from the middle out, not the top down.
  3. Invest in short term spending to spur job creation and get people back to work.
  4. Ensure a 1-to-1 ratio of revenues to cuts to ensure a balanced approach to fixing the deficit.

I understand the need to get this done for the American people. But no deal in the short term is better than a bad deal that hurts working families and slows our economic recovery.

To help build grassroots support for the best possible deal for the middle class, I have launched so you can show President Obama that you'll stand with him to fight for the best deal -- not the quickest. Click here to join me and speak out.

Our resounding win at the polls means that we can negotiate balanced and responsible long-term fiscal deficit reduction, while still prioritizing the needs of the middle class and the vulnerable. I need your help to share that message and strengthen President Obama's hand.