Democrats cannot be the party of both the working class and the millionaire class
By Jared Golden For years, Democrats have made promises to American voters: elect us and we will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Elect us and we will expand access to affordable health care.
By Jared Golden
For years, Democrats have made promises to American voters: elect us and we will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Raise us up and we will expand access to affordable health care. Rise up and we will strengthen labor laws to protect workers’ rights. Lift us up and we will implement significant and sensible reform to improve the lives of working middle class people.
Last week, we found out that the leaders of the Democratic parties had made other promises as well, this time to the donor class: $ 275 billion tax break for millionaires and the very rich over five years. This giveaway is designed by lifting the cap on the national and local tax deduction.
The facts of this proposal are not seriously contested. Only 1.2% of tax cuts would go to the bottom 60%: those who earn less than $ 96,000 a year. Their average tax cut: less than $ 7 per year. Meanwhile, millionaire households would benefit from tax cuts averaging $ 15,590 per year.
This amount of money that goes to the rich adds up quickly. In fact, it is the most important provision of the Build Back Better Act today. Supporters of state and local tax deductions are sticking to a misleading claim that their proposal will be “paid for” by extending the cap beyond its current expiration date of 2025. This compensation looks good on paper, but it is largely a shell game that masks the real cost of this scheme, an increase in debt of more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade.
To add insult to injury, this provision applies retroactively, allowing the wealthy to reap the windfall of the past year, while Build Back Better Act programs that would help middle-class workers – like caps on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for the elderly – are delayed or expire after only a few years.
This should be an outrage for working middle class Americans. I know it pisses me off. Fighting for the working middle class should not first require a gain for the millionaire class. Cleaning up the environment shouldn’t start with a political bribe to millionaire CEOs who get rich by polluting it. We should be able to put money in the pockets of working families without putting money in the pockets of millionaire campaign donors. I reject this compromise – it is a sham and just another sad example of the corrosive force of money in politics.
There is a lot to like about the Build Back Better Act. Think about what could be done with these hundreds of billions of dollars if we decided not to pass it on to the rich. The expansion of the child tax credit is only valid for one year under this bill. Let’s put the money in for a longer expansion. The bill is not fully paid, as the President has promised it will be. Let’s change that and commit to a bill that cuts the nation’s annual budget deficits. There are a thousand better ways to invest this money than to fork it out to millionaires.
The fact that this tax break has crept through the seams of this law is proof of the corrupting influence of money in politics. The main beneficiaries of this provision are big contributors to political campaigns in states like New York and California. I’m not afraid to call this payment system to play, and I voted against. Unfortunately, last week I was alone.
The good news is that it is not too late to settle this terrible case. State and local government tax giveaways have never been on the president’s agenda – his agenda has been hijacked. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where it needs the support of all members of the Democratic caucus to pass. Fortunately, many senators have speak in strong opposition to this gift.
I support negotiations to limit state and local tax cap relief to middle-class households, and will speak with these senators and the White House to try to correct this grossly flawed policy. The child tax credit proposal already in the bill – which allows households earning up to $ 150,000 a year to claim the full enhanced credit before phasing it out – could provide a good plan for better target the deduction. We could use those same criteria to ensure that only working middle class families get tax relief through state and locality tax deduction.
Democrats must make a decision: are we the party of the working class or the party of the millionaire class? We can’t be both.
Golden represents the 2nd Congressional District of Maine in the United States House of Representatives.