Today in the Senate, a vote will be held on whether to debate the Middle Class Tax Cuts Act, a bill that would implement President Obama’s proposal to extend current tax rates for most people but restore 1990s-era tax rates on income over $250,000.
This is an overwhelmingly popular position, and one that makes a lot of sense. The new tax rates would only affect the richest 2 percent—and only on income they make above $250,000. The wealthy have been doing well over the past few years even as most working people have fallen behind, so this plan would make sure everyone is paying their fair share.
The Senate Republicans have also made a proposal—one that’s upside-down from the Middle Class Tax Cuts Act. They would extend all of the current tax rates, including the big cuts Bush gave to the very richest, but they would also eliminate tax credits that the President passed under the Recovery Act in 2009—credits for working families with kids and credits to help people pay for college. In fact, under the Senate Republicans’ plan, millions more people would be paying higher taxes than under the bill
There’s a lot of overlap between the two sides’ plans—but where they differ is in who benefits. The Middle Class Tax Cuts Act mostly benefits those at the lower end of the scale and middle-class families with kids; the Senate Republicans’ proposal would continue to give huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.
As David Atkins correctly puts it, Senate Republicans are “flat-out running on a campaign of lowering taxes on the super-rich while raising them on lower and middle incomes.”
So what’s likely to happen this afternoon? Well, if you’ve watched the Senate at all over the past year, you’ll recall a familiar story: popular bills get majority support in the Senate but get blocked by a minority filibuster before they can even get a debate. That’s the story of the Bring Jobs Home Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the “Buffett Rule” and an infrastructure jobs bill, to name a few.
You’d think that the chance to keep tax rates at their current low levels for 98 percent of Americans would break this pattern. But we’ll have to wait and see where the Senate’s Republican minority stands.
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