Politics Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax
Biden's confiscatory tax plans unleash class warfare
Confiscatory tax policies make citizens worse off overall in the name of redistributing resources from the wealthy to the poor. But they ignore the fact that the taxes are imposed on those responsible for the investment that creates jobs. The new administration and its allies in Congress are trying to use the politics of envy and class warfare to argue that low- and middle-income can get ahead only with massive redistribution by the government, instead of economic growth spurred by a dynamic private economy driven by free choice.
Democrats have turned solidly against the gas tax as lawmakers look for ways to pay for a new infrastructure measure to remake the nation's roads and bridges.
The tax has long been seen as a regressive measure that hits the poor and middle class, as well as people in rural parts of the country, disproportionately.
But it is also something that Democratic presidents have embraced over the years, from President Carter, who in 1977 supported raising the tax by five cents a year for 10 years, to President Clinton, who with Vice President Al Gore backed the last hike in 1993.
Arizona refurbishes gas chamber in push to resume executions
PHOENIX (AP) — As it aims to resume executions after a seven-year hiatus, Arizona has refurbished its gas chamber, where the nation's last lethal-gas execution was carried out more than two decades ago before the United States rejected the brutal nature of the deaths. The state has purchased materials to make hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used in some past U.S. executions and which the Nazis used to kill 865,000 Jews at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone. (AP Photo/File) The state has purchased materials to make hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used in some past U.S.
Barack Obama in the summer of 2008 opposed a gas tax holiday as he ran for the White House, arguing at the time it would save the average consumer little money and would do more harm than good.
But in today's debate over infrastructure and taxes, there is little if any support for a gas tax among progressives - especially amid reports of a tax policy that lets off the rich, and income inequality that puts the squeeze on the poor.
"When you have Jeff Bezos making as much money as he is, it is not fair for us to then raise the gas tax," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told The Hill.
Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the thinking around the issue has indeed evolved within the party.
"Over time, as we have become more and more aware of the different ways in which tax structures are regressive or progressive ... it has crystallized for progressives ... that this is not the way to go," she said.
American Jewish Committee Condemns Arizona Refurbishing Gas Chamber for Death Row Inmates
Arizona's secret refurbishment of the gas chamber for use on death row inmates drew backlash from the American Jewish Committee, likening it to the Holocaust.The state purchased materials to make hydrogen cyanide gas, which has been used in some past U.S. executions in addition to being used by Nazis during World War II in concentration camps, the Associated Press reported. The gas was used to kill 865,000 Jews at Auschwitz alone.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday congressional reporters that she rejects making "America's working families" pay for critical infrastructure that "the rest that America's wealthiest people and their businesses are using without paying for them."
Groups pressing for action on climate change also aren't backing a hike in the gas tax.
"There's been a growing crowd of folks who are saying this is probably not the best direction to be moving in," said Mustafa Santiago, a vice president at the National Wildlife Federation who focuses on environmental justice.
"There's a cultural shift that's happening in our country. People are paying much more attention to who's been carrying the burdens, who've been the ones that are garnering the most impacts," he added.
Biden has taken a more progressive stance on taxes so far than Obama, for whom he served as vice president for eight years.
Opinion: America's tax system is rigged to protect the rich and powerful
Jeffrey Sachs writes the US tax system is designed to protect wealthy individuals and powerful corporations, and it is breaking the country in more ways than one. Much of the Republican Party lives and breathes to protect the rich and powerful from paying taxes, and Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia too often side with them. Meanwhile, public opinion -- strongly supporting higher taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations -- counts for little because the rich have undue influence over the political class. © Getty Images But the severity of the problem cannot be overstated.
While Obama opposed suspending the gas tax amid rising prices in the summer of 2008, Biden has taken the position that he will raise no taxes on any households making less than $400,000 annually. That includes the gas tax.
A source inside the White House familiar with ongoing conversations confirmed that the Biden administration also does not support indexing the gas tax to inflation.
A bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican senators has suggested indexing the gas tax to inflation as one way to pay for infrastructure proposals. Biden wants to raise taxes only on corporations and the wealthy.
"Penalizing and taxing the overwhelming majority of Americans, including those joining in the rapid transition to electric vehicles, is not an acceptable solution," said Will Anderson, an associate director at the Sierra Club, an environmental group.
"The climate action we need today requires major investments in our infrastructure. As President Biden has made clear, this must come by demanding the wealthiest Americans and corporations pay their fair share."
An effective and politically viable option for corporate tax reform
Together with a 25 percent corporate tax rate, the Biden administration should adopt the 15 percent corporate minimum tax rate coming out of the G-7 meeting, instead of the proposed 21 percent minimum rate. The 15 percent minimum rate is likely to attract broader support from the G-20 finance ministers, who meet later this summer. Moreover, if most industrialized countries adopt a minimum 15 percent rate, then American companies would be at a competitive disadvantage with a 21 percent U.S. minimum rate. In sum, Congress should pass a 25 percent corporate tax rate with a 15 percent minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S.
As talks continue between the White House and Capitol Hill, aligned Democrats on the outside are looking to test messages around inequality and taxation ahead of the next round of elections.
During the 2020 presidential cycle, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was praised by progressives for proposing an "ultra-millionaire" wealth tax, which she with other Democrats in the Senate in March. Jayapal, who co-sponsors in the House version, said "the gas tax is sort of the opposite" of her bill with Warren in that it would tax everyone and therefore hit poorer Americans harder.
One progressive group predicts the messaging around wealth, income, and taxes will carry over to 2022. According to a conducted by Data for Progress this week, 47 percent of respondents polled "strongly oppose" raising the gas tax, while 71 percent "oppose" it overall.
The gas tax increase is "one of the most unpopular policies I've ever polled," said Ethan Winter, a senior analyst for the liberal think tank. "It's down there with banning meat."
Pushing a controversial position with day-to-day implications, Winter argued, would hurt a party that has to defend and possibly pick up new seats in order to maintain their Senate and House majorities.
"People commute to work every day, many of them do it by car, and they are finally attuned to the price of a gallon of gas," Winter said. "It hits them in their pocketbooks."
On The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike .
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