Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:04PM - 723 Views

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HAZLETON – Niurka Delarosa says she makes nowhere near $250,000 a year at her two Hazleton businesses – much less $1 million – and that her representative in Congress would not be helping her if he voted to limit tax increases to millionaires and billionaires.

Delarosa, who owns a day care and a Dominican food store in the city that U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta once led as mayor, was one of a handful of area residents and business owners at Barletta's Hazleton District Office on Thursday. The five protesters gathered to ask Barletta to vote for a plan that would extend tax breaks for all but the top 2 percent of wage earners – not the Plan B proposed by House Speaker John Boehner.

Aquiles Damiron-Alcantara, field organizer for Keystone Progress, said Barletta has portrayed himself as a champion of small businesses, and that the GOP has said allowing tax cuts to expire on small business owners would hurt them and the economy.

Ann Marie Shelby, of Hazle Township, said those proposing higher limits consider small businesses to employ as many as 500 people, but around here, that's not a small business.

My taxes would not go up if a tax bill extending cuts for anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year passed, said Delarosa.

While negotiating with Boehner, President Barack Obama proposed tax cut extensions first for those earning less than $250,000, then raised the limit to $400,000. Boehner proposed a $1 million limit, but couldn't muster enough GOP support Thursday night and cancelled a vote.

In a written response to the protesters before the vote was scrapped, Barletta said he planned to vote for Plan B, which he said would permanently lower taxes for 99.81 percent of Americans, in addition to other benefits. His spokesman, Shawn Kelly, said lowering the limit to $250,000 would hurt farmers and small-business owners who have Subchapter S corporations, because the income they re-invest in their businesses would be taxed at a higher rate.

My goal is to limit the amount of money the government can take from people, said Barletta. If we give this president more money, he's just going to spend it.

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