Democratic Lawmakers Fracture Over Tax Plans, Drug Costs


The day before the House Democrats’ self-imposed deadline for completing committee work on their extensive social policy bill, tension rose in their ranks on Tuesday over how popular elements like childcare access, universal pre-kindergarten and health insurance expanded.

Progressive Senators, led by Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Vermont-independent Bernie Sanders, harshly pushed back the decision by high-ranking Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee to move a $ 2.1 trillion tax hike package towards income taxes Focus, not royalties, on the huge fortunes of tycoons like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

They vowed to continue their efforts to tax, for the first time, billions of dollars in assets that grow every year and will not be taxed if not sold.

“The wealth tax is not something that a bunch of politicians sit around and think, ‘Great idea.’ That’s something Americans say we need for basic fairness, “said Ms. Warren, who has proposed a 2 percent annual tax on the value of household assets over $ 50 million, which is 6 percent set to rise above $ 1 billion.

Mr Sanders said he had not given up either.

“The Committee on Ways and Means has submitted its proposal; the Senate Finance Committee is working on their proposal, ”said Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, which will draft the version of that chamber’s bill. “I think the most important thing at this point is that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, with a tax system that clearly benefits the wealthy, we begin to address such inequalities.”

Faced with the delicate politics of a tightly divided Congress, high-ranking Democrats in the House of Representatives chose to give greater consideration to the moderate concerns in their party than to their progressive ambitions, and to focus on traditional ways of increasing revenue through income taxes.

Even liberals on the Ways and Means Committee defended this approach on Tuesday. Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the second-tier Democrat on the panel and a seasoned progressive, said Democrats in the Swing District simply couldn’t face the Republican attacks that a widespread wealth tax would bring.

“People who are not rich think they will be,” he said, “and they don’t want to be punished for their success.”

But it will not be easy to find the income for social spending without tapping into the vast wealth of billionaires that are untaxed year after year. House Democrats hoped to raise $ 500 billion by keeping prescription drug costs down, in part by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices and link acceptable drug prices to prices in other countries.

But if Washington billionaires have powerful advocates, the pharmaceutical lobby is at least as powerful.

On Tuesday, two moderate Democrats, MPs Scott Peters from California and Kurt Schrader from Oregon, spoke out against the Democratic leadership’s aggressive drug pricing plan and presented a more moderate version that would likely bring the government far fewer savings.