I was all set to write about Tupac, and how I’d known that he was a hologram all along, but then I started reading about today’s failure by the Senate to act on the so-called Buffet Rule, which would have imposed a minimum tax of 30% to all individuals making more than one million dollars a year, and now I feel obligated to post something about it… Apparently, the Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes they needed in order to break a Republican filibuster and proceed to full consideration measure. The vote was 51 to 45, in favor of moving forward, with only one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, crossing party lines to support it. The measure, had it passed, would have raised approximately $46.7 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years, according to the analysis of the Joint Committee on Taxation. (All proceeds were to have been directed toward debt reduction.)
By way of background, it’s worth noting that, under our current system, a staggering number of America’s most wealthy individuals pay absolutely no income tax whatsoever. Here, with more on that, and the growing inequity within the American system, is a clip from a letter that I received earlier today from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
…One of the most interesting pieces of information that I’ve seen in the last few weeks comes from a recent study done by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez. This study, based on an analysis of American tax returns, showed that in 2010, 93 percent of all new income growth went to the top one percent of American households. Everyone else, the bottom ninety-nine percent, divided up the remaining seven percent.
In other words, the outrageous income and wealth inequality in America continues to get worse. Almost all new income is going to the wealthiest people in our country, the people who need it the least, while the middle class continues to collapse and tens of millions of Americans struggle daily just to put food on the table, fill up their gas tanks to get to work and pay for their housing. We have not seen this level of greed from the people on top in the last hundred years.
Later today, I expect that the Democratic Leadership in the Senate will bring up the “Buffet Rule” legislation. This bill is a modest effort to ensure that millionaires, who currently enjoy the lowest effective tax rate in decades, experience a tax rate that is at least the equivalent of what middle-class workers pay. Not surprisingly, it is likely that Republicans in the Senate, whose main interest in life is to represent the rich and the powerful, will move to defeat this measure.
The “Buffet Rule” is a progressive step forward, but we must go further. Not only must we create a fair and progressive personal income tax system, but we need to end the enormous loopholes that large and profitable corporations currently enjoy…
And, here’s Bernie on MSNBC yesterday, making the case as to why the wealthy should be contributing at a rate equivalent to that which their employees are being asked to contribute.
Fortunately, it doesn’t look as though the Democrats are going to back down this time. They know that this is an argument that they can win in the court of public opinion, and, because of that, they’re going to keep hammering away at it in the run-up to this November’s election… Following, with more on that, is a clip from the Huffington Post concerning the Democratic strategy going forward, as articulated by New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
…Schumer vowed to keep bringing the Buffett Rule back until Republicans give in, the way they did on the payroll tax cut fight.
“We’ll keep pushing this issue all year long, and we think we’ll pick up more and more Republicans,” Schumer said.
He added that the idea is not just to score campaign points, but to show people that Democrats are more in line with them on tax policy, and to ultimately pass the bill.
He suggested that the likely presence of Mitt Romney atop the GOP presidential ticket would help, because Romney has already been dubbed a poster child for the issue after paying a 13.9 percent tax rate on his last public return — less than many in the middle class.
“It could be called the Buffett Rule, it could be called the Romney Rule,” Schumer said. “I don’t think he’s going to want to have this present inequity remain when he’s an example of it.”
House Republicans are planning to counter the Buffett Rule push later this week with an attempt to cut taxes. A proposal by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) would cut small business taxes by 20 percent. Since his bill would provide a disproportionately large benefit for the wealthy, it would mark an especially sharp contrast with the Democratic measure…
And you read that right – the Republican response is to further cut taxes on the rich, shifting even more of the burden to the poor and middle class. But, who are we to complain? It is, after all, what Jesus would have wanted, right?
…Speaking of heroes, that, like Jesus, have risen from the dead, I’d love to know more about the financial arrangements that made it possible for Tupac to return to us, and whether we might see him shilling for Doritos in the not too distant future, or perhaps endorsing Republican candidates, now that he’s found his voice. (If they can have him say “What up, Coachella!”, which the real Tupac never said during his lifetime, given the fact that the annual event didn’t start until three years after his tragic death, then apparently they can have him say absolutely anything.) Here, for those of you who missed it, is footage of the newly risen rap star entertaining the filthy and stoned children of the 1% a few days ago in the California desert.