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Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Budget Deficit and Class Politics

by Robert B. Reich

Tax bills now wending their way through the House and Senate would cut about $60 billion in taxes next year. But there�s a huge difference between the two. The biggest item in House bill is a two-year extension of the President�s tax cuts on stock dividends and capital gains. The House bill doesn�t touch what�s called the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). By contrast, the biggest item in Senate bill is temporary relief from the AMT. But the Senate bill doesn�t extend the dividend and capital gains tax cuts.

No legislative choice in recent years has so clearly pitted the super rich against the suburban middle class. Most of benefits of the House�s proposed extension of the dividend and capital gains tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, with average annual incomes of over $1 million. Most of the benefits of the Senate�s cut in the AMT would go to households earning between $75,000 and $100,000 a year, who would otherwise get slammed.

The AMT was enacted more than three decades ago to prevent the super-rich from using tax breaks to avoid paying income taxes. But it�s now the super-rich who are making off like bandits while the AMT is about to hit the middle class. That�s because the AMT was never indexed to inflation, which means it�s starting to reach taxpayers considerably below the super rich.

read the rest here


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