Kyrsten Sinema Really Trying Our Patience, Tell You What
For quite some time, we've been sure of a couple things regarding the big Build Back Better reconciliation plan: A) Something's fairly certain to pass and be signed by Joe Biden, and 2) The process is going to be absolutely nerve-racking all the same. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal kicked our anxiety level up a notch or two with a story explaining that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) says she won't support any income tax increases on wealthy people or corporations, or increases in the marginal rate on capital gains, either. Sinema's opposition to those key sources of revenue for Build Back Better has, the story says, left Senate Dems "considering abandoning central tax elements" of the plan to expand the social safety net and shift the US economy away from fossil fuels.
Well hell, we should have seen that coming. It's not enough that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has forced Democrats to take an ax to big chunks of what's going to be in the bill (although the final shape of those cuts isn't yet determined). Now we learn that Sinema just can't bring herself to fund what's left in it. Whee, we are having a real fun time on the ol' serotonin roller coaster this week!
The Journal reports that Sinema "has previously told lobbyists" that she's opposed to any increases at all in those three tax rates, and that her continued opposition is "now pushing Democrats to plan more seriously for a bill that doesn't include those major revenue increases."
Happily (*cough!*), the story notes that Sinema is at least willing to consider other forms of revenue to pay for the bill, because she is a class act that way:
Other planks of President Biden's tax agenda, including tightening the net on U.S. companies' foreign earnings and enhancing tax enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service, are still on the table[.]
Would this be a good time to point out that in 2017, Sinema, along with all the other Democrats then in the Senate, voted against the Trump tax cuts? Biden's tax agenda doesn't even fully roll back those Big Fat Tax Cuts for Rich Fuckwads. Again, the taxes that Sinema opposed cutting in the first place.
In its current form, Build Back Better would restore the top rate on individual income tax rom 37 percent to 39.6 percent. But it would only raise the corporate income tax rate from 21 percent to 26.5 percent, which is lower than the 28 percent Biden originally proposed, and way less than the 35 percent rate prior to 2017.
Hell, Joe Manchin Himself called for the corporate rate to go up to 25 percent.
On capital gains, the plan was to raise the top rate from 23.8 percent to 28.8 percent, which again is far less than the tax equalizer Biden called for. Since the obscenely rich make their money off investments, not paychecks, Biden had called for people making over a million dollars a year to pay a capital gains rate of 39.6 percent, just like the top marginal income tax rate.
Again, this is all really freaking bizarre. Rolling back the Trump tax cuts, in part or in full, has been pretty much a no-brainer for virtually all Democrats since the damn giveaway to corporations and the rich was passed. And also again, Joe Goddamn Manchin wants to see some the 2017 tax cuts reversed, at least partially, including a restoration of the top individual income tax rate. For. Fuck's. Sake.
If Sinema continues to be an absolute no on any increase in those three tax rates, it's going to leave a huge hole in plans to pay for Build Back Better, as the Journal 'splains:
The House's corporate tax rate increase was projected to raise $540 billion over a decade, while the tax rate increases on ordinary income and capital gains would raise nearly $300 billion.
Richard Neal, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee that oversaw the drafting of the bill's tax provisions, told the Journal he's hoping to have a little chat with Sinema sometime soon, and we would like to congratulate him on suppressing the urge to mime Homer Simpson comically strangling Bart, because Neal is a goddamn professional. (He's also pretty far on the "corporate-friendly" side of the spectrum himself, so you know Sinema's stance is some extremist bullshit.)
"I hope that we're going to talk some of this through," he said. "The rates that we came up with were not punitive, and they allow us to accomplish policy outcomes that many of us agree on."
Neal, the Journal reports, met online yesterday to talk about revenue strategy with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, and White House officials. If that chat included any trash talk about Sinema, the Journal doesn't say.
Now, as with the uncertainty over what's actually going to be included in the bill, we should point out again that none of this is final, and that the Journal points out there are plenty of other things Dems can use to raise revenue in ways that wouldn't touch those three precious tax rates beloved by Sinema's favorite lobbyists:
For example, the House bill would limit deductions for business losses, lower the estate-tax exemption, restructure the tax rules for U.S. companies' foreign income and enhance efforts to collect more taxes owed but not paid.
The less that Democrats can rely on tax-rate increases, the more they might turn to more novel ideas such as an excise tax on stock buybacks proposed by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio).
Mr. Wyden, whose committee circulated a menu of tax-raising options earlier this year, has continued to push for an annual tax on billionaires' unrealized capital gains. That idea, for which Mr. Biden recently expressed support, would affect a narrower group of people than the capital-gains changes that have already flopped among congressional Democrats. [linky added by Yr Wonkette because damned if we're explaining that one again]
Or perhaps, what the hell, Sinema's favorite lobbyists might even let her be persuaded to support some lower increases in tax rates than are already on the table. Just no telling yet.
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