As Maine Senate president, it’s been my honor to fight for working people and families across our state. Working with leaders across Maine, I’ve focused on protecting good-paying jobs, taking care of our seniors and veterans, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and ensuring that everyone has quality health care. I believe strongly in these goals, but I don’t think we should have to sacrifice our values to achieve them. That’s why I join our 2nd District congressman, Jared Golden, in demanding changes to the provision in the recently passed Build Back Better Act that gives out massive tax cuts for the wealthy, who should be paying for this bill.

Ninety-four percent of the tax cut enabled by increasing the SALT deduction cap “would go to the highest-income 20 percent,” Maine Senate President Troy Jackson writes. Maryna Pleshkun/Shutterstock.com

To be clear, the Build Back Better Act in Congress would make historic investments in all these priorities for our state. As I’ve written before, I am proud to support its aims and its eventual passage, including vital provisions to rein in the costs of prescription drugs, strengthening the Affordable Care Act, expanding the child tax credit and investing in affordable child care and universal pre-K, which would improve our economy and improve the lives of children, adults and families across our state.

But throughout my time in public office, I have also pushed for a tax system that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy elite. Here in the Maine Legislature, that’s why we have advocated for and delivered significant property tax relief so that more working-class families and seniors can stay in their homes.

As Rep. Golden has highlighted, the House’s bill also included an increase in the state and local tax deduction cap – a massive tax giveaway to the rich. Just 1.2 percent of these tax cuts would go to the lowest 60 percent of earners, or those making less than $96,000 a year. Their average tax cut would be less than $7. However, 94 percent of the tax cut would go to the highest-income 20 percent. Among millionaires, 80 percent would receive a tax cut, averaging $15,590 apiece. That’s not right.

This isn’t just a small detail. Costing $285 billion over the next five years, it’s the single largest piece of the House’s bill. The bill would spend more on this tax cut than it does on universal pre-K, child care, the child tax credit or care for our seniors. This is a serious flaw in the current proposal and a terrible priority for our party, which is devoted to fighting for working- and middle-class Americans.

Rep. Golden is not alone in raising the alarm about this terrible policy. Sen. Bernie Sanders has been a vocal opponent of allowing the SALT provisions to proceed as written, and he is among those in Congress joining our congressman in trying to fix it.

I know that some Mainers wish the congressman had voted for the House’s version of this bill, and I believe that the Build Back Better plan needs to pass with or without the needed changes. However, I understand where Rep. Golden is coming from, and I respect his stance to hold the line for working people and lead the effort to get this tax giveaway fixed as the bill heads to the Senate. If and when the bill comes back to the House for a final vote, I hope it has improved sufficiently to earn Rep. Golden’s vote.


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