Legislation

A congressional correction: Dems’ plan would raise taxes on millionaires

Sometimes, people make mathematical mistakes that reverberate in important ways. About a decade ago, for example, then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan used a prominent economic analysis to make the case for austerity measures. What the Wisconsin Republican didn’t realize is that the authors of the report made a coding error in an Excel spreadsheet.

At the time, Kevin Drum called it the “Excel Error Heard Round the World.”

Last year, members of Donald Trump’s White House team made projections about Covid-19 fatalities based on a “cubic fit” model they clearly did not understand.

This year, Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation recently released an analysis of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package and concluded that the Democrats’ plan would lower taxes on millionaires. It led to quite a bit of negative press for the legislation, with critics — including Republican lawmakers — pointing at the JCT findings as proof that the bill went too far to help those who didn’t need another tax break.

Today, as NBC News reported, the Joint Committee on Taxation issued a correction.

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package would raise, not lower, taxes for millionaires, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation in a major correction from the group’s original analysis. The JCT, an official scorekeeper of tax-related legislation, originally estimated that the $1.7 trillion safety net and climate change bill would give millionaires’ a net tax cut in 2022, but the revised estimates released Tuesday shows millionaires’ average tax rate going up by 3.2 percentage points next year.

In other words, the original criticisms got it backwards, because the JCT made a mistake.

When the House narrowly passed the Build Back Better Act last week, every Democrat in the chamber voted for it, except one: Maine’s Jared Golden, who represents a relatively conservative New England district, which twice supported Donald Trump, broke ranks and opposed the legislation.

Pressed for an explanation, Golden’s office issued a written statement explaining that the Maine Democrat opposes, among other things, “tax giveaways to the wealthy” and “tax breaks for millionaires.”

But that was before the Joint Committee on Taxation issued its correction — which concluded that the Build Back Better package would raise, not lower, taxes for millionaires.

The BBB legislation is currently pending in the evenly divided Senate. Democratic leaders have said they intend to pass a revised version of the bill by Christmas. Today’s news should probably help the party reach that goal.


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