Could Tax Sweeteners Bring Rebel Dems on Board?

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The Senate released the details of its tax bill on Thursday—legislation that conforms to President Obama’s deal to preserve the Bush tax cuts and water down the estate tax, with a hefty (unpaid for) price tag of $858 billion. The bill is now expected to pass the Senate, particularly as it includes an extension of ethanol subsidies that’s likely to bring along Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and other farm-state senators previously critical of the deal.

The House Dems haven’t let up their fierce protest against the bill, despite the growing consensus from both White House officials and Democratic legislators themselves that they won’t be able to stop it. But within the Senate bill itself, there are other sweeteners for Democrats that might help quell the rebellion on the House side. The Wall Street Journal explains: “The package extends a program of cash grants for wind and solar projects, as well as tax credits for energy-efficient appliances, although at reduced, pre-stimulus levels. It includes favorable tax treatment for mass-transit benefits for employees.” And Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) admitted to Politico that the clean energy sweeteners would be positively received: “That is the most important addition… A lot of our members wanted it. It was excluded from the original bargain. The fact that it was added is a good thing.”

Such minor tweaks aren’t likely to sway the liberal wing of the House Democrats, most of whom will likely still vote against the bill. But the sweeteners could help bring a few more moderate members aboard and perhaps take a bit of the edge off the resentment that the House Dems have directed toward the White House.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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