Not counting a tiny handful of corrupt conservatives like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin in the Senate and Josh Gottheimer, Lou Correa and Kurt Schrader in the House-- and this bag of corruption Pelosi tried to anoint as the next Speaker but who AOC saved the country from-- Democrats are betting on tax fairness that will force the very rich to pay a more equitable share of taxes and take the burden off working families making less than $400,000 annually. This morning, Richard Rubin and Ken Thomas, reporting for the Wall Street Journal, noted that "Democrats say their focus on the top tier of households would help combat growing wealth inequality. The money would help pay for the healthcare, education and climate-change programs that Democrats hope to pass in the coming months.
The Democratic outlook represents a shift from the start of the last two Democratic administrations, when the party was on the defensive in the 1994 and 2010 elections after lawmakers passed tax increases as part of economic and healthcare laws. In 2010, Democrats put off a decision on whether to extend President George W. Bush’s tax cuts until after the midterms in part to avoid making taxes a bigger electoral issue. After losing seats in the election, they extended them all for two years.
This time, the push comes after Biden campaigned in 2020 on using tax increases on the wealthy and businesses to pay for an expansive social agenda. Democrats point to opinion polls to argue that voters support their plans to reverse some of Trump’s tax cuts-- which lowered the corporate tax rate, shrank the estate tax and reduced taxes for business owners-- and impose other new increases.
A Pew Research poll released in September found that 66% of Americans said tax rates on large businesses and corporations should be raised a lot or a little, compared with about 33% who said they should be lowered or kept the same. The same poll found 61% said households making more than $400,000 should see taxes raised a lot or a little, compared with 37% who said they should be reduced or stay the same.
...Biden and his advisers believe that raising taxes on the rich and American corporations is a popular solution that fits the times. The president frequently says that billionaires dramatically increased their wealth during the pandemic and that many working Americans pay higher tax rates than the wealthy.
...The most recent version called for raising taxes on corporations’ domestic and foreign income, on closely held businesses, capital gains, high-income individuals and estates. It also would nearly double the size of the Internal Revenue Service.
The corporate tax rate should probably be around 35% but Biden offered 28%-- a steal for the super-rich-- and then Manchin chopped it down to a ridiculous 25% to please his wealthy campaign contributors. Keeping taxes low on the super-rich accomplishes more than one goal for conservatives like Manchin. Aside from pleasing their financial supporters-- only 2% of Manchin's campaign contributions come from West Virginians-- it also kills the funding for the programs they don't want to see enacted. In yesterday's NY Times, Coral Davenport shows how Manchin is killing one of the most crucial and most popular parts of the Build Back Better Act. She wrote that "The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda-- a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy-- will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists familiar with the matter. Senator Joe Manchin III, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to passage of the bill, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to three of those people. As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions."
The Blue-America endorsed congressional candidate-- running in the northwest corner of Washington-- Jason Call, has been working hard on policy that includes both energy and tax fairness. This morning he told me he wanted to start by stating the obvious to start: "Joe Manchin is going to virtually single handedly cost the Democrats the 2022 midterms and quite possibly the 2024 White House." Then he said he wanted to state the "other obvious: there’s not a chance in hell the US will cut emissions by 50% in under ten years. I don’t think we’ll do it in twenty. Then there’s a final obvious: the corporations who are funding both parties literally could not care less who wins any election in America, because both parties are wholly subservient to them. And that’s where we are. We’ve got two sports teams in the league, but they both have the same owners."
"And now that the 3rd quarter FEC filings are available for all to see," said Call, "we observe yet again that WA-02 incumbent has taken the majority of his campaign contributions from corporate PACs, and in particular from the war machine and fossil fuel industry. Considering Rick has said the Green New Deal is not an important resolution, and as a member of the House Transportation Committee has been promoting the wholly insufficient Invest Act as a realistic combatant to the climate crisis, and being in what he feels is a safe Democratic seat, Rick will remain quiet about Manchin’s clownery because his industry BFFs stand to benefit. Not surprising from someone who’s average PAC contribution was almost $1900. Joe Manchin is putting the average left voter-- which the Democratic Party must count on in swing districts-- in a position of not wanting to work very hard for a party that refuses to address the needs of the working class. Perception is reality; not fighting for is the same as opposing."
The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.
Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.
“This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy, who has been advising Senate Democrats on how to craft the program. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad.”
The setback also means that President Biden will have a weakened hand when he travels to Glasgow in two weeks for a major United Nations climate change summit. He had hoped to point to the clean electricity program as evidence that the United States, which is historically the largest emitter of planet-warming pollution, was serious about changing course and leading a global effort to fight climate change. Biden has vowed that the United States will cut its emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The rest of the world remains deeply wary of the country’s commitment to tackling global warming after four years in which Trump openly mocked the science of climate change and enacted policies that encouraged more drilling and burning of fossil fuels.
“This will create a huge problem for the White House in Glasgow,” said David G. Victor, co-director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at the University of California, San Diego. “If you see the president coming in and saying all the right things with all the right aspirations, and then one of the earliest tests of whether he can deliver falls apart, it creates the question of whether you can believe him.”
Democrats had hoped to include the clean electricity program in their sweeping budget bill that would also expand the social safety net, which they plan to muscle through using a fast-track process known as reconciliation that would allow them to pass it without any Republican votes. The party is still trying to figure out how to pass that budget bill, along with a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
For weeks, Democratic leaders have vowed that the clean electricity program was a nonnegotiable part of the legislation. Progressive Democrats held rallies chanting “No climate, no deal!”
Mr. Biden had hoped that enactment of the legislation would clean up the electricity sector, which produces about a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gases. He wanted a program with impacts that would last well after he leaves office, regardless of who occupies the White House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at an event in San Francisco Friday morning that she was still pushing for the strongest possible climate change provisions in the bill.
“What we’re here today about is specifically about the climate piece,” said the California Democrat. “This is our moment. We cannot-- we don’t have any more time to wait.”
...Even as Pelosi vowed in San Francisco to protect those climate provisions, at least four people in Washington close to the negotiations called the clean electricity program “dead.”
Senator Tina Smith, Democrat of Minnesota and the chief author of the program, said that while dropping it might win Manchin’s vote on the budget bill, it could cost hers-- and those of other Democrats focused on the environment.
Alan Grayson, progressive icon and former congressman from Orlando, is running for Rubio's Senate seat, although Schumer-- who brought us Kyrsten Sinema and hates progressives and progressivism with all his being-- has another idea. This morning, Grayson told me that "The inability of the Democrats to push through laws to protect the environment is a product of our difficulty in influencing public debate and building mass movements-- as compared to Germany, for instance, where the Green Party was already changing public policy to protect the environment 25 years ago. In the face of horrific hurricane damage, million-acre wildfires, freezing temperatures in Texas, monsoons that put half of Bangladesh under water, and other climate catastrophes, we somehow end up losing focus to such things as 'the border crisis,' 'the cancel culture,' critical race theory, defunding the police, the 'Democratic war on the suburbs,' and other Bannon/Breitbart/Fox News projections and delusions. In other words, for the protection of Planet Earth to advance, the people who live on it have to give a damn."
In Orange County, Mike Ortega is battling it out with corrupt Blue Dog Lou Correa in a blue congressional seat the deserves honest representation for working families. "Conservative Democrats that are in bed with the fossil fuel industry," he told me today, "have put us further on the wrong side of this ongoing crises. Manchin said that if we have a problem with his corruption, we need to elect more progressives. That’s why our people-powered movement that rejects corporate PAC money of all kinds is going to win out in CA-46... because we’re running out of time. Lou Correa, the incumbent here, takes oil and gas corporate PAC money and will never support a Green New Deal, let alone the type of legislation that our people need to ensure that we have a habitable planet for our children. It’s clearer now, more than ever how crucial this moment is for the future of our planet and working people. Conservative Democrats like Manchin, Sinema, and Correa here in CA-46 have to go."