Pop Culture

Dems Have Crazy New Plan to Fund Biden’s Infrastructure Bill: Make Billionaires Pay Their Fair Share

What a concept. 

As you’ve probably heard by now, Joe Biden would like to pass a sweeping infrastructure plan that would make life better for millions of people. Republicans, who’ve made it abundantly clear that they don’t give a crap about improving people’s lives, are obviously against anything that doesn’t start with a “t” and end with an “ax cut,” and will thus fight this thing tooth and nail. But Democrats are also having trouble coming to a consensus re: how to fund the thing, with senators like Kyrsten Sinema expressing opposition to a rise in tax rates. So party leadership has gone back to the drawing board and come up with a new proposal: making the richest people in the country, the ones who literally shit money, pay their fair share.

Per The Washington Post:

Senior Democrats are preparing a sweeping new tax plan that would aim to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from the fortunes of America’s roughly 700 billionaires, an abrupt shift in the party’s approach to funding a large expansion of the safety net…. Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is drafting the plan, but both senior Biden officials and other senior Democrats are cautiously optimistic Sinema and other centrist lawmakers support the effort, according to interviews with three congressional aides and two administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect sensitive negotiations. “The Billionaires Income Tax is about fairness and showing the American people taxes aren’t mandatory for them and optional for the wealthiest people in the country,” Wyden said in a statement. “No working person in this country thinks it’s right that billionaires can pay no taxes for years on end, and sometimes never at all.”

Currently, wealthy Americans do not have to pay taxes on vast accumulations of wealth because they are only taxed once the asset is sold. Billionaires often borrow against their non-taxed assets, which allows them to spend enormous sums of money while effectively paying very low taxes relative to their income and worth. Under the “Billionaire Income Tax” proposal, a summary of which was obtained by The Washington Post, the federal government would require billionaires to pay taxes on the increased value of their assets such as stocks on an annual basis, regardless of whether they sell those assets. Billionaires would also be able to take deductions for the annual loss in value of those assets. It would also set up a system for taxing assets that are not easily tradable, like real estate. The tax would apply to billionaires and people earning over $100 million in income three years in a row.

Which seems pretty reasonable, particularly to people who, for example, didn’t see their net worth double in the past year to $222 billion, as was the case for Elon Musk, who recently took to Twitter to taunt Jeff Bezos for only being worth roughly $194 billion, and thus the second richest person in the world. (Yes, this happened, and is probably a good argument not just for a tax on billionaires but for bringing back the gulag.)

A spokesman for Sinema would not confirm or deny whether she supports the billionaire tax, saying only that she “is committed to ensuring everyday families can get ahead and that we continue creating jobs,” and that “she has told her colleagues and the president that simply raising tax rates will not in any way address the challenge of tax avoidance or improve economic competitiveness.” The White House has reportedly been involved in crafting the details, and Biden has endorsed the concept. Republicans, it’s safe to assume, will be throwing an absolute hissy fit over the whole thing in short order, because if there’s one thing they can’t stand, it’s the ultrarich paying their fair share.

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The Supreme Court once again f–ks over pregnant people

Procedural arguments will be heard on November 1, but in the meantime, Texas‘s barbaric abortion law, banning the procedure at six weeks, will remain in effect. Per The New York Times:

The Supreme Court on Friday once again refused to immediately block a Texas law that banned most abortions after six weeks. But the justices agreed to fast-track their consideration of appeals from the Justice Department and abortion providers in Texas, scheduling arguments for Nov. 1. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissent. “For the second time, the court is presented with an application to enjoin a statute enacted in open disregard of the constitutional rights of women seeking abortion care in Texas,” she wrote. “For the second time, the court declines to act immediately to protect these women from grave and irreparable harm.”

But she added she welcomed the court’s decision to hear arguments in the two cases, which will apparently be limited to the procedural question of whether the Texas law, S.B. 8, is subject to review in federal court given its novel structure. The court said it would decide this question in the federal government’s appeal: “May the United States bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the state, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials or all private parties to prohibit S.B. 8 from being enforced?”

While the court rejected a request from Texas officials to use the cases to decide whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, people who think what a pregnant person does with their body is their business and their business alone shouldn’t get too excited just yet. In December, the justices will hear arguments in a case concerning a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks, and it’s entirely possible that the court’s conservatives will use the opportunity to roll back the landmark decision.

In other Matt Gaetz news

According to The Daily Beast, he won’t be representing himself in any courts of law any time soon:

Faced with an onslaught of accusations that he engaged in underage sex trafficking—and bracing for criminal charges—Gaetz allowed his license to practice law in his home state of Florida to lapse this month. On Friday, The Daily Beast revealed that Gaetz had not paid the fees he owes to the Florida Bar, which regulates lawyers there. That mistake prompted the organization to deem him “delinquent” and “not eligible to practice law in Florida.”

Rather than assert that letting his license lapse was a simple oversight that he or someone on his staff will soon remedy, Gaetz’s communication director initially claimed it was intentional. “Congressman Gaetz is no longer actively engaged in the practice of law. He is focused on representing his constituents in Congress, not the courtroom,” said Joel Valdez. (After The Daily Beast’s story published, the outlet reported that Gaetz “rushed to file a signed petition to get reinstated and pay the $265 fee—plus another $200 in late fees,” citing the Florida Bar.) Lawyers who spoke to The Daily Beast said Gaetz’s decision to let his license become delinquent underscores the fact that he’s a clown. “He clearly doesn’t take his law license very seriously when he doesn’t take the time to pay the $265 dues,” said Daniel Uhlfelder, an attorney who lives in Gaetz’s district. “He’s not a serious lawyer. He’s not a serious congressman. He’s not a serious person. This is one small but symbolic example of that.”

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