If it's beginning to dawn on the Washington Post's "Power Up" reporter, Jacqueline Alemany, perhaps the rest of the Beltway media is waking up to what the big fight in the Democratic Party over Biden's agenda is-- and has always been-- taxes. Not Texas... TAXES. Who pays for the immensely popular programs that only hard core Republicans don't like? First off, here's how the public feel about it:
"How Democrats will pay for their $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package currently being drafted by House Democrats," wrote Alemany this morning, "might be just as contentious of a fight as the one over the policies they'll ultimately foot the bill for." WHAT!?!? "Might?" Is she kidding? That's the fight. That's it. And the sausage-making began in the Senate Finance Committee today and starts in the House Ways and Means Committee tomorrow.
"[A]n army of [sleazy] lobbyists and special interest groups," she wrote, "making their case against tax increases-- or for the status quo-- have mobilized, and former [incredibly corrupt right-wing] Democratic lawmakers who have cashed out on K Street have penned their op-eds. The pay-for fight is bound to further expose the moderate [NOTE: "moderate" in Beltwayese means "corrupt conservative" in plain English]-progressive schism and comes on the heels of a report released by the Treasury Department this week that found that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans are failing to pay an estimated $163 billion in taxes every year."
No one is calling for the 80-90% marginal tax rate for multimillionaires that makes the most sense, both in terms of the economy and in terms of justice. The "progressive" position, instead, is what the White House is meekly asking for: "reinstating the 39.6% top ordinary tax rate next year." Republicans might set themselves ablaze on the Senate floor if that had any serious chance of being passed but don't get out the marshmallows and weiners-- ultra corrupted conservative Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will never agree to that. Nor would the most bought-off of the conservative Dems in the House-- Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA) and Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA). And their corrupt enablers like Jim Clyburn, another always-for-sale Democrat who gets away with gross corruption every single day. Maybe this would be a good time to visit this page.
Senate Dems-- minus Manchin and Sinema-- would like to pass the Clean Energy for America Act to eliminate tax incentives for fossil fuels and create tax credits for clean electricity and transportation production. Manchin would join the GOP and flip the Senate entirely before ever letting that go through. As Manu Raju reported this morning, "Manchin is making clear he won't cave on aggressive climate provisions sought by many Democrats, throwing a wrench in his party's efforts to make the bill key to combating global warming." Manchin also opposes free community college, the child tax credit, funding for home-care services and universal pre-K, but aside from killing anything to do with Climate Change, the only hill he'll never budge from is raising taxes on his wealthy donors. That's because Joe Manchin's real name is Joseph Corruption Manchin. He wants to slash the $6 trillion package-- along cut to the bone and compromised down to $3.5 trillion-- to $1.5 trillion. Raju wrote that "What remains to be seen is whether the Senate chairs ultimately cater to Manchin's demands or try to railroad him into making a choice: Approve the most sweeping piece of domestic legislation in decades-- or be responsible for sinking it singlehandedly."
Last July in a CNN interview, Manchin, sounding just like any garden variety Republican, tried flipping the ostrich with his head buried in the sand analogy normally used against Climate Change deniers: "If they're eliminating fossils, and I'm finding out there's a lot of language in places they're eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you're sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that's going to clean up the global climate, it won't clean it up all. If anything, it would be worse." If Manchin and his ilk don't have their heads buried in the sand, they have their heads buried in the pockets of the super wealthy who finance their campaigns, their power, their lifestyles and their corrupt families.
And that brings us back to Alemany, who noted this morning that "Some of the 'tax gap' provisions being considered include increased funding for IRS enforcement against wealthy taxpayers and banks... The Senate Finance Committee is also weighing a 'mark-to-market for billionaires' measure that would require them to pay capital gains taxes each year as their publicly traded assets appreciate.
'This proposal would apply to an estimated 600 people and raise hundreds of billions,' according to the document.
They're also considering a policy change to 'mega retirement accounts'-- individual retirement accounts with over $5 million-- that would 'require taxpayers to distribute retirement account balances that exceed certain thresholds,' per the document.
Tax increases aiming for America's wealthiest-- closing the carried interest loophole and proposed estate and capital gains tax changes," are "rocking the boat," wrote Alemany and "have elicited the most pushback so far."
The corrupt former members of Congress who have weighed in on the side of their paymasters include former West Virginia Blue Dog swine Nick Rahall, who "penned an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette (paging Sen. Joe Manchin III) arguing against the capital gains step-up in basis at death: 'Some in Congress believe this will only affect wealthy people and fix a loophole to ensure the rich pay their fair share,' he wrote. 'In actuality, it would force small businesses and family farms to pay a 43.4% tax on inherited assets and a 40% estate tax. That amounts to a 83.4% tax, a punitive measure that small businesses simply can’t afford, especially now.'" And no one could imagine another stinking pile of right-wing cow-shit to miss this fight. Far right pig-woman Heidii Heitkamp, a paid MSNBC regular, and a lobbyist who is never identified as a lobbyist on MSNBC, told the NY Times that "taxation upon death, regardless of wealth, is deadly politics." She's been bellowing her lies about family farms being taxed out of existence even though Bernie-- who has done more for Vermont's rural residents that the rich corrupt lobbyist Heitkamp ever did for North Dakota farmers-- wrote the provisions to specifically protect family farms. But Heitkamp has spent her entire miserable career regurgitating Republican talking points... so why stop now that she's being paid to? "Lobbyists," wrote Alemany, "already expect this piece of the estate tax changes to wash out in the lobbying deluge."
"A spokesperson for the Senate Finance Committee," she continued, "pushed back on the argument that these proposals are political losers, pointing to former president Trump, who in part campaigned and won the 2016 election by promising to stop letting hedge funds get 'away with murder' and close the carried interest loophole."
“The GOP position on taxes was previously a political loser… [Trump] recognized that this is about millionaires and billionaires playing by a different set of rules,” said the spokesperson.
“These are strong measures that are facing an onslaught of well-funded, high-powered opposition from very powerful lobbying forces,” Robert Greenstein, the founder and former head of the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote in an email. “The misleading but too-widely-believed claims about how the capital gains at death provisions would affect family farms are a case in point, as is the opposition being mounted to strengthening IRS enforcement, which simply aims to ensure that more people pay the taxes they owe under the law. It will take courage for many members not from safe districts or states to support some of these provisions, but it’s the right thing to do for the country, in my view.”
Katie's right. I wonder if she had her corrupt, conservative colleague, Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL), in the back of her mind. Pelosi's should never have put someone as conflicted-- her multimillionaire father-in-law finances her political career and she takes money from every rotten source looking to buy votes-- as Murphy on the House Ways and Means Committee. One of her other colleagues rolled her eyes and told me not to worry about it. "She's starved for attention and she'll vote for it in the end... This is just her way of making a statement for the conservatives back home who she thinks love her... She's very worried because the legislature is planning to gerrymander her into a far more Republican district. I won't shed any tears. No one but Gottheimer will."