CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As Congress negotiates how to cut the federal deficit, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller says lawmakers should consider cutting corporate tax loopholes and raising taxes on the wealthy.
On Thursday, the West Virginia Democrat released 18 proposals he says could cut the nation's debt by $1.29 trillion over the next decade.
"There's lots of talk about reducing the deficit and cutting spending, but we have seen very few specific ideas, especially when it comes to revenues," Rockefeller said in a statement.
In addition to ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, Rockefeller says the government should eliminate what he calls unfair tax advantages for rich people.
For instance, he said, some who buy big yachts claim the boats as second homes so they can deduct the mortgage interest on their taxes.
Rockefeller's other proposals include cracking down on illegal Internet gambling, creating a new tax bracket for millionaires and billionaires that is 3 percent higher than existing levels, and ending tax breaks for the oil industry.
He also wants to consider a temporary, 3-cent tax on soda, saying it would generate $24 billion over four years.
"Lower and middle-income families I talk to have said that if the wealthy and big businesses start paying their fair share, and critical programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, and Social Security are protected, then they are also willing to help reduce the deficit," he said.
The senator has been an outspoken critic of potential cuts to Medicaid and other programs for the poor.