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Democrats abandon millionaires surtax

June 20, 2011 - Jim Anderson
Several months ago, I observed that Congress seemingly has no will for a surtax on millionaires, even though the idea enjoys widespread public support. (“Surtax on millionaires,” Daily News, March 29, 2011).

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in February on the best ways to reduce the deficit found that 81 percent of Americans believe it’s totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to impose a surtax on millionaires.

Until Friday, Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee were entertaining the idea of introducing a 3 percent surtax on income above $1 million a year.

As a deficit-reducer, the proposed 3 percent millionaires surtax would likely generate less than $30 billion a year in new revenues. That represents about 2 percent of the current year’s $1.5 trillion budget deficit, so it’s hardly a game-changer.

It’s no surprise that Democrats have now abandoned the millionaires surtax, which was largely meant to draw the support of Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, who was pushing for a 5.4 percent surtax.

According to The Hill, Sanders' support for any proposed Senate budget is crucial — due the narrow split between 12 Democrats and 11 Republicans on the budget committee.

Sanders is apparently willing to give up the surtax in exchange for closing some corporate loopholes and eliminating offshore tax havens.

It’s a reminder (if you needed one) of the power of money in Washington.

An idea that enjoys 81 percent public support is surrendered to do what ...? To get Congress, in part, to attempt a crackdown on corporations that set up sham headquarters in tax-haven countries. And to curb loopholes that have enabled some corportations to escape taxes entirely.



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