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Thursday, Apr 21, 2011, 1:19 pm

Rep. Schakowsky’s Push for Billionaire Tax Hike Goes Nowhere, Fast

By Minjae Park

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Just over a month ago, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act to create new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires at rates between 45-49 percent.

The current top marginal income tax rate—established in 2001, in full effect since 2006 and extended in the GOP-Obama tax deal reached late last year—is 35 percent. Citizens for Tax Justice say Schakowsky’s bill would close this year’s deficit by $78 billion—exactly double the cuts House Republicans settled for in this year’s spending bill.

At a time when the top 1 percent of wage earners are raking in almost a quarter of all income in America and the wealthiest 400 Americans hold more wealth than half the country combined, it shouldn't be controversial to ask those who have never had it better to pay more. Polls show broad support for raising taxes on the rich.

The fact that most politicans regard this bill, which is modest by pre-Reagan standards (the top marginal rate was about 90 percent during the Eisenhower administration), as a nonstarter reveal just how far to the right the terms of our political debate and culture have shifted.

The bill, which was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee upon its introduction in March, awaits action from Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who voted in favor of making the Bush tax cuts permanent and phasing out the estate tax. Don't expect movement any time soon; a vote on the measure has not yet been scheduled. No surprise, really: It's hard to appreciate a little legislative sanity when there's so much madness on Capitol Hill.
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