Manchin Rejects Billionaire Tax

That's probably the end of Biden's plan passing, though Sanders doesn't accept Manchin's veto
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2022 6:08 PM CDT
Manchin Rejects Billionaire Tax
Democratic Sens. Mark Warner, left, and Joe Manchin arrive for a briefing on the war in Ukraine on Wednesday in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Sen. Joe Manchin didn't immediately come out in opposition to President Biden's plan to place a 20% minimum income tax on billionaires—he waited almost 12 hours. Manchin doesn't like the idea of including unrealized gains on stocks and other assets, before they're sold and become cash. "Everybody has to pay their fair share," Manchin said, the Hill reports. The West Virginia Democrat said his objection is that "you can't tax something that’s not earned. Earned income is what we're based on." That stance probably dooms the proposal Biden announced Monday. Manchin may have left the door open to another strategy. "There’s other ways to do it," he said.

Although Manchin's opposition could be decisive in the Senate, where the bill would need a yes from every Democrat to reach Biden, a Democratic colleague didn't consider the matter closed. "I don't care what Mr. Manchin has to say," Sen. Bernie Sanders told Business Insider. Citing wealth inequality and the fact that some some billionaires "don't pay any federal taxes," Sanders said the nation needs a progressive income tax system. "We got to go forward on that." Manchin also blocked Biden's economic proposals last year, which Sanders supported.

Taxing income can miss the nation's wealthiest if they don't declare income. That's been the case with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, for example. They can borrow against their assets, living off that cash. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat, calls Biden's approach, intended to raise $360 billion over a decade, a "solid" way to deal with that practice. A Republican member of the committee, Sen. John Thune, said, "It's essentially taxing people before they actually get the income, and that seems like a really dangerous precedent in tax law." (Read more federal income tax stories.)

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