House Democrats remove controversial tax rule that progressive said would make bold policies impossible

The decision to scrap this rule is a victory for the far left of the Democratic party and for progressives. 

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House Democratic leadership has abandoned its plans for a tax rule that would have made bold progressive economic policies nearly impossible to fund.

The tax rule, which was denounced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), was a right-wing rule that would have only allowed for economic policies that benefitted the wealthy by requiring a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the bottom 80 percent of Americans.

An existing rule created by House Republicans requires a three-fifths supermajority vote in the House to approve any tax increase.

Pushed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the tax rule would make it impossible to secure funding for bold progressive proposals such as Medicare for All and tuition-free public college.

“We are pleased to announce that the rules package for the 116th Congress will not include the 3/5 supermajority tax provision promoted by House Republicans in recent years. The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families,” said the CPC on Twitter.

Eric Levitz of New York Magazine pointed out last month that it was interesting that the Democrats’ first act of power in the new Congress was to virtually make their own agenda impossible to pass. As Levitz says, “The decision to retain the supermajority threshold on tax hikes – but restrict it to the bottom 80 percent – might look commendable on first glance” but that isn’t the case. Trying to create more wealth equality by distributing more of the wealth to the bottom 80 percent of the population doesn’t mean keeping tax rates frozen, and doing so in this way would keep those 80 percent from enjoying economic benefits such as Medicare for All that could save them a hefty sum in the long run.

As Levitz says, “A bill that required those households to pay a new, smaller monthly sum to the government — so as to fund a single-payer system that would actually reduce their cost of living by delivering radically cheaper health-care services — could hardly be called regressive.”

Progressive groups previously called the tax rule “disastrous” and “absurd”.  Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were the only Democrats to publicly opposed it. The decision to scrap this rule is, therefore, a victory for the far left of the Democratic party and for progressives.

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