A letter to Congress from the National Taxpayers Union, signed by 180 economists, urges members to refrain from approving any tax increases.

President Barack Obama is demanding a tax hike on the wealthy as part of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to begin Jan. 1. Some Republican congressmen have expressed a willingness to accept that.

“Increasing taxes would likely slow or reverse our nation’s fragile economic recovery and undermine long-term growth,” the letter says. It recommends spending cuts instead. That “would help stabilize the government’s fiscal imbalance and create a more conducive environment for robust expansion.”

Signers of the letter include Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Congressional Budget Office director under President George W. Bush, and Jim Miller, White House budget director under President Ronald Reagan.

“In particular, Congress should avoid raising marginal tax rates on income and taxes on investment, such as capital gains and dividends taxes,” the economists state. “These types of taxes most directly and meaningfully affect job creation.”

The experts also oppose cutting itemized deductions for the wealthy and raising taxes on a particular industry, like energy for example. “Such policies are merely revenue-raising ploys when executed outside the context of comprehensive tax reform that includes correspondingly lower marginal rates,” the letter reads.

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