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Barbara Boxer says what Main Street wants is a new tax on bonuses

February 4, 2010 | 10:21 am

Seizing on public anger over Wall Street bonuses, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to impose a hefty tax on bonuses paid by companies receiving a large federal bailout.

"When I go home and people say to me, 'Senator, it's time for Main Street to get some fairness,'" Boxer said at a Capitol Hill news conference in introducing the Taxpayer Fairness Act.

Boxer, who's up for reelection, proposed a 50% tax on bonuses in excess of $400,000 for employees of firms that received more than $5 billion in federal bailout funds. Only bonuses received in 2009 would be affected.

After a public uproar over bonuses, the House last year approved a 90% tax on such bonuses, but the legislation has never come before the Senate -- controlled by Boxer's fellow Democrats -- amid concerns by President Obama and senators about using the tax code to punish people.

The campaign of GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina quickly denounced the Boxer plan. Officials there said Boxer never should have voted for bailout legislation that allowed such bonuses to be paid. "Of course, it's no shock she would propose this. Tax increases are Barbara Boxer's solution to everything," Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund wrote in an e-mail to reporters.

-- Richard Simon in Washington