Tax the Rich: Democrats Introduce Deficit-cutting Bill

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According to recent public opinion polls, more than eight in 10 Americans want the rich to pay a fair share to cut the deficit. With Republicans poised to cut everything from Social Security benefits for seniors, to education and food safety inspections, congressional Democrats have introduced a bill that would cut the deficit by $78 billion by creating a new tax on millionaires and billionaires.

In introducing the measure, its author, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., a member of the president's fiscal commission, said, “In the United States today, the richest one percent owns 34 percent of our nation’s wealth – that’s more than the entire bottom 90 percent, who own just 29 percent of the country’s wealth.”

This vast wealth and income inequality needs to be addressed, she said. "It’s time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, which is why I introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act."

"It’s about fairness," she added. "It’s about avoiding budget cuts that harm middle class families and those who aspire to it. We can choose to cut education, job creation and health care, or we can choose to ask those who can contribute more to do so.”

According to United for a Fair Economy, the current top tax bracket begins at $373,000 in income and fails to distinguish between the “well off” and billionaires – like the top 20 hedge fund managers whose average income last year was over $1 billion.

According to analysis of the bill, the proposal would create several new tax brackets for income earners between $1 million and $1 billion ranging from 45 percent to 49 percent. The bill would also restore capital gains tax provisions for incomes over $1 million annually.

Aside from 80 percent of Americans, the proposal is getting support from some unlikely sources. Katharine Myers, a millionaire from Pennsylvania whose income comes from royalties from a company her mother started, praised the measure. “I think very wealthy people like me should pay substantially higher taxes, since we have done exceedingly well in the last few decades,” she said. “Our taxpayer-funded government contributed to my success.”

The bill has been cosponsored by both progressive and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, “It’s time we treated multi-millionaires the same way we treat working families – by creating a tax bracket to match their income."

“There’s no reason to treat the wealthiest one percent of the country any more specially than anyone else," Grijalva added. "And right now that’s exactly what our tax system is doing."

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters, “The middle class is shrinking and deficits are rising because Republicans are giving a pass to special interests who aren’t paying their fair share. This bill is part of a plan to level the playing field.”

United for a Fair Economy, Citizens for Tax Justice, Citizen Action Illinois, U.S. Action, Campaign for America’s Future, Wealth for the Common Good, and The Agenda Project have all endorsed Schakowsky's bill.
 
Steve Wamhoff, tax expert from Citizens for Tax Justice, praised the tax bill's progressive character. “Millionaires have benefited disproportionately from the tax cuts enacted over the past decade, so it seems entirely reasonable that they share in the sacrifices needed to get our fiscal house in order.”

“The budget cuts being debated in Washington shamefully require middle class families to pay the price for the recklessness of the Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers who broke our economy,” said Brian Miller, Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy. “Instead of punishing middle class families and de-funding America, the Fairness in Taxation Act asks those who have benefitted so heavily from the economic bounce of Wall Street to share responsibility for getting our nation's finances on track.”

For their part, Republicans have fought to protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires above all other priorities.

Photo by keegstra/cc by 2.0/Flickr

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  • @Dianne The upper .1% earns so much more that if they paid just a fraction of what the income tax was under Republican President Eisenhower we'd see a much smaller deficit. http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/swa_preview_income_inequality_in_dollars_and_cents/

    And my guess is that you will only accept polls that agree with your view on things. But that is your prerogative.

    Posted by sinking ship, 03/28/2011 11:44pm (3 years ago)

  • And where are you getting your public opinion polls NOT from the public I guarantee

    Posted by Dianne, 03/28/2011 9:26pm (3 years ago)

  • The upper 34% of the wealth pays 68% of the taxes. The only fair tax is a flat tax, that way EVERYONE pays the same percentage. Lower income should also pay tax but their low income makes for lower tax Stop crying that the rich are...rich! THEY WORKED FOR IT. MAYBE IF YOU WORK LIKE THEY DO YOU WILL GET RICH TOO! There is NO reason because someone works their ass off they should have to give their money to someone who just waits for the government to take from someone else and give to them. Disgusting! What a way to raise your children. Dont work, the government will take from the guy next door who works 18 hour days and give it to us so we can sit home, watch tv and collect!! If that is how you let the country go, then we deserve to end up on the bottom of the barrel. We have always been a strong country admired and respected but now they all laugh at us. Keep it up

    Posted by Dianne, 03/28/2011 9:25pm (3 years ago)

  • yes this is the class that should pay they have not paid thier fair share for the last 10 yrs they are the major reason for the govermental debt

    Posted by robert swearingen, 03/21/2011 2:10pm (3 years ago)

  • Yes, and those same people pay over 80% of the taxes. 50% of the voting public already pay zero taxes. If you were to tax every person in the US at 100% of their income the government would still be short of the money to fund just the entitlement programs alone. And don't take my word for it, do your homework.

    Posted by Ryokosan, 03/19/2011 10:23am (3 years ago)

  • This proposed new bill,badly needed,will gain wide support,and among those justifiable demands made in Wisconsin,Ohio,Maryland,Indiana, and other places there should be the knowledge and demand to reverse the deficit crises throughout the U.S. with a plan,the Jan Schakowsky Fairness in Taxation Act,which increases revenue and job generating capacity to spur unionization and democratic economic rights for workers,both unemployed and employed.
    Also such a bill,increasing revenue would allow the government to become employer for the tens of millions out of work,or marginally employed,to be full-time employed at union wages and conditions with security,especially for young workers,who are now unemployed,especially in urban centers at 40,50,60,70 and 80 per cent.
    This Act, reveals the fiscal truth the Tea Party and billionaire reactionaries want so desperately to hide:
    the financial capitalists and imperialists have hijacked our economy and resources and seek 1 per cent of the nation holding 99 per cent of the wealth-and 99 percent of the nation holding 1 per cent of the wealth. We are the whole people and seek to control 100% of the wealth through democracy being swept away by tyrannical measures of Citizens v Federal,Governors Walker,Kasich and others of their ilk.
    They want a despotic Egypt in the Home of the Free and Brave,the home of Harriet Tubman,John Brown and Frederick Douglass, and MLK, we are telling the American pharaohs: let our public school teachers,firemen,police officers,nurses,public and private,public service workers,public health care workers,municipal employees,unionists,street cleaners,electricians,mechanics,engineers,physicians,maintenance workers,fire women,secretaries,federal workers,postal workers-the whole thing public and private-go.
    We need to retain and expand our collective bargaining rights in each state,including the millions of currently unemployed,and the youth. This plan of solvency,presented in this Act,will give us a way to harness this great energy of the working people in the U.S.,for a clean,green economy,commensurate with our advanced technological capacities and history.
    We will not be austerity slaves or any other kind of slave-as Roger Moore writes-America is NOT Broke,and as Paul Leroy Robeson wrote, we will get an equal chance and an equal share.
    Let's,with the hundreds of thousands in each of the U.S. states,get with this Fairness in Taxation Act.
    Let's help save our country from this economic tyranny.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/17/2011 12:44pm (3 years ago)

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