Fiscal cliff legislation taxes the rich – unless they have buddies in Congress

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In the fiscal cliff fight, proponents of big government said they wanted to raise taxes on the wealthy for purposes of deficit reduction and “fairness.” As the dust settles, we see it’s anything but fair.

First, as Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph noted on Facebook, the deficit reduction aspects of taxing the “rich” are bogus, though there is some sliver of good news to be seen:

So, as was expected, the Democrats will get tax hikes, the SOLE purpose of which are to stick it to the “wealthy” while making everyone else FEEL better about having STUCK it to them.

One development that I find fascinating, however, was how the Democrats basically agreed to DOUBLE the amount of money an individual or family needs to make per year in order to be considered “wealthy.” From $250,000 to $450,000. Of course this further proves the absurdity of this president’s repeated claims that tax hikes were NEEDED for “deficit reduction.” But it’s also a surprising capitulation for a guy who has spent the last 4 years trying to convince America that those making $250,000 a year were essentially, no different from Warren Buffet. Smoking fat cigars on their yachts while lower class Americans needed that money redistributed to them so that they could to pay their Obamaphone bills.

So if there’s any silver lining to this deal, it’s that we have a new, far more accurate definition of what it means to be “rich” in this country. That Democrats agreed to change it with so little protest, means that they knew all along that the $250,000 benchmark was bogus. Or perhaps they have finally admitted that a tax hike on those folks would seriously damage the economy by hitting small business owners right where it hurts.

Second, as The Washington Post described on January 1, many of Congress’ rich special interest friends were not denied their tax credits and tax breaks:

There were dozens of rider provisions that had nothing to do with the cliff. The renewable-energy industry got one worth $12 billion over 10 years. The owners of auto-racing tracks got one that will cost $78 million. A $1 million break will help coal-mining operations on Indian lands.

Another oddball provision dealt with excise taxes on imported rum, which the U.S. government mainly funnels to the territorial governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This deal said that arrangement will continue.

Nobody had said a word about excise taxes and rum on the floor of the House or the Senate in the two years since the provision was renewed the last time.



The list went on. One provision renews an Agriculture Department price-support program through which the government buys cheese and butter from dairy farmers. That averted not a fiscal cliff but a dairy cliff: Milk prices were set to rise sharply.

Other special interests such as Hollywood, NASCAR, and Goldman Sachs were provided tax assistance from the federal government in this deal. How is this fair?

Speaking of fairness, the farm bill was included in the legislation for one year. As this blog recently highlighted, the farm bill includes millions of dollars in corporate welfare for JPMorgan Chase, and it’s widely known that almost three-quarters of the farm bill’s subsidies go to upper-income farmers.

For all the talk in Washington about tax fairness and deficit reduction, there is no evidence even a strong minority of Members of Congress stand ready to make either of these goals a reality. Instead, the proverbial can will be kicked down the road, making the collusion between Washington and special interests stronger than ever.