AUGUSTA – U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both Democrats, said Wednesday they oppose the tax cut package recently proposed by President Obama.


The new legislation would extend Bush era tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, including those for the wealthiest Americans, something Obama said he opposed. But after negotiating with Senate Republicans, Obama agreed to continuing all the cuts in exchange for including an extension of jobless benefits. The package also includes a payroll tax cut and continues cuts in the estate tax and other cuts to businesses to encourage investment.


“This deal is like a ransom note – Republicans are demanding that we fork over billions of dollars to the richest 3 percent in exchange for extending vital unemployment benefits and tax cuts for families that are struggling to make ends meet,” said Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st Congressional District, in a release. “We shouldn’t cave in to their demands.”


The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are set to expire on December 31.


Pingree said she voted for maintaining the tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000 and for extending jobless benefits.


“But I can’t in good conscience vote to give millionaires and billionaires a big tax break,” she said. “Tax cuts for the rich do very little to help grow the economy and add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit.”


Michaud, who represents Maine’s 2nd District, blamed Democrats and Republicans alike for being fiscally irresponsible.


“Republican leaders have made tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans their priority and to do it they are willing to add billions to our national debt, which would need to be financed by future generations and bankrolled by China; these are the same politicians that constantly highlight our mounting debt as a crisis,” he said in a statement. “These actions are hypocritical and represent the worst of Washington.”


Michaud said Obama was guilty of using the package to pass other spending initiatives without paying for them.


“This type of borrowing from future generations has to stop,” he said.


U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Republicans, have said they support extending the tax cuts to all.