Friday, October 15, 2021

Democrats see tax ‘framework’ to pay for $3.5 trillion package

Top Democrats said on Thursday that Democrats in the White House and Congress have agreed on an outline of options for paying for their huge emerging social and environmental bill. Now they face the daunting task of narrowing the menu down to the tax possibilities they can pass to fund President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced the progress as Biden administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders chatted behind the scenes. The package aims to rewrite tax and spending priorities to tackle income inequality and expand programs to Americans of all ages while accelerating efforts to fight climate change.

Given a self-imposed Monday deadline, lawmakers said they would work nonstop to find agreement on the specifics. Democrats’ views on him vary widely, though they largely agree with Biden’s idea of ​​raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy for the package.

“We certainly think this is progress,” Biden’s press secretary, Jane Peskai, said at the White House.

Biden is encouraging talks by inviting more than 20 liberal and progressive lawmakers from his party to the White House for lengthy meetings this week. He has been working to close the deal with Congress on his “Build Back Better” agenda, at a time when his presidential campaign promises are running into trouble with actually governing.

But the party is divided on many issues.

Liberal Democrats, most prominently Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Cinemas of Arizona, are demanding that the total dollar be reduced. Politicians say the revenue option — which mostly means taxes — can be dialed up or down to pay for it. The final price tag could certainly slip from the much-hyped $3.5 trillion.

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Republicans are strongly opposing the package, calling it a “reckless tax and spending spree.” So Democrats will have to push it through Congress on their own, which is only possible if they limit their defection to a few people in the House and none in the Senate.

“We are moving forward,” Pelosi said. “We intend to stay on course and get the bill passed as soon as possible.”

Congress leaders pulled out of work already being done on those panels to agree a framework with the chairmen of tax writing committees early Thursday. They are intent on sticking to Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year.

Representative Richard Neill, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has already drafted his version, which would raise corporate tax rates by 26.5% to $2.3 trillion for businesses earning more than $5 million annually and top Will increase personal tax. 37% to 39.6% for those earning more than $400,000, or $450,000 for married families.

The House panel’s bill also includes a 3% additional tax on the adjusted income of the very wealthy, who earn more than $5 million a year.

The Senate Finance Committee, under Senator Ron Wyden, has yet to pass its bill, but it is eyeing proposals that could help the superrich more, including efforts to reduce practices used to avoid paying taxes. target.

“I’m not going to get into any specific material today, but I’ve made it very clear that a billionaire’s tax as chairman of the finance committee will be on the menu,” Wyden said.

Those tax targets align with those of the Biden administration, which is arguing that increasing the income inequality gap is fundamentally about fairness.

Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks briefly to reporters after attending a bipartisan barbecue lunch at the Capitol in Washington on September 23, 2021.

According to a new analysis released Thursday by the White House, the 400 wealthiest households, worth more than a billion dollars, paid an average tax rate of just 8.2% between 2010 and 2018. Treasury Department tables show that this is lower than the average tax rate for households. With an income of approximately $142,000.

The analysis suggests two obvious reasons why billionaires pay lower rates than the upper middle class: They receive income from stocks, dividends and other assets that are taxed at lower rates, and they tend to invest in certain investments. Can permanently avoid paying tax on benefits which are by law excluded from taxable income.

Without disclosing a framework, Wyden indicated that he agrees with House’s plans for some retirement savings accounts, which are used by the wealthy to shield liabilities.

Targeting the “mega IRA,” Democrats hope to see as a flaw in the retirement savings system that enables billionaires to deposit millions into independent retirement accounts without ever paying taxes. Under some proposals, individuals earning more than $400,000 would be barred from contributing to their IRA once their account balances top $10 million.

The Biden administration has also shown interest in a climate change tax, a so-called polluting importer duty, that would essentially impose tariffs on goods coming from countries without some emissions controls. The tax is being seen as a way to put pressure on China.

Gaining less traction seems to be a carbon tax that could hit homes and deviating from Biden’s pledge not to tax those earning less than $400,000.

Another big unknown: whether Democrats can unite around a plan to rein in drug costs that could save the government hundreds of billions that could be used for Biden’s goals.

Thursday’s sudden announcement of outline options put key lawmakers off guard, including Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent and budget committee chair, and others leading the way in assembling one of the largest bills ever to be passed by Congress. had ever tried.

Schumer later admitted of the emerging framework, “It is hardly a conclusion, but it was a good step in progress.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks to reporters at the Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks to reporters at the Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington.

Yet the framework could help Congress leaders show momentum as they approach the crucial deadline and begin to address concerns raised by Munchkin and other moderates that taxes are being considered before moving forward. want a more clear view of this, colleagues said.

On Monday, the House plans to begin considering a separate $1 trillion package of road and other infrastructure projects as the first test of Biden’s agenda. That public works bill has already passed the Senate, and Pelosi has agreed to schedule it for a House vote to assuage party moderates, who badly want the law to pass, but Ready to support the massive measure of $3.5 trillion.

But progressives are threatening to treat the Public Works Bill as inadequate unless it is included in a comprehensive package. Democratic leaders are trying to reach a consensus on the bigger bill to make sure both bills pass.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate remain at a standstill on a separate package to keep the government funded before the end of the September 30 fiscal year and suspend federal debt limits to prevent a disastrous US default on payments. . Senate Republicans are refusing to back the bill passed by that House, despite the risk of triggering a fiscal crisis.

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