The only Democrat to oppose the Build Back Better bill in the U.S. House, Maine’s Jared Golden, is among the leaders of a growing effort to pare back the bill’s provision to provide a larger tax break for wealthy property owners.

The 2nd District congressman has voiced strident opposition to a proposal increasing the state and local tax deduction, that would help only those with property taxes of more than $10,000 annually.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald

In the bill that passed the House last month, the existing cap of $10,000 would go up to $80,000 through 2030. It would drop back down at that point, unless a future Congress agrees to something else. Experts have pegged the cost of the change at $275 billion.

Golden is pushing an alternative that would allow deductions for families earning less than $175,000 yearly instead of the bill’s current language that he said in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week “overwhelmingly benefits millionaires and the very wealthy,”

Democratic senators are scrambling to rewrite the bill to make it possible for its passage in the Senate, where they can’t afford a single defection. At least two senators, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Colorado’s Michael Bennett, have strongly denounced the state and local tax language in the House version.

Golden said Democrats in Congress have to confront what he called an existential question: “Are we the party of the working class or the party of the millionaire class?”


“Tax breaks for millionaires were not what President Biden ran on, won on, nor proposed as part of his agenda and they should have no place in the Build Back Better legislation in Congress,” the second-term lawmaker from Lewiston wrote in his op-ed.

Golden is seeking reelection next year in a race that’s widely considered among the tightest in the nation, with five Republicans vying for the right to take him on. Among them is Bruce Poliquin, a former member of Congress who lost his seat to Golden in 2018.

Democrats in general are pushing the Build Back Better bill, which currently includes more than $500 million to fight climate change, $400 billion for universal pre-K for children, $200 billion to extend the child care tax credit program slated to end this month and more money for everything from home health care to four weeks of paid parental leave.

Republicans have said little about Golden’s stance on the bill, but have argued it shouldn’t pass.

Jason Savage, the Maine GOP’s executive director, said “this tax-and-spend mess” would hurt many Mainers, spur inflation, raise energy prices and hurt nursing homes.

“It’s like they looked at all the problems this country faces right now and decided to intentionally make them worse,” Savage said.


President Joe Biden “and the Democrats in Congress are driving up inflation with bad choices and crazy deficit spending,” Poliquin said on Facebook Friday.

Biden has argued the Build Back Better bill won’t increase the deficit and is needed to combat inflation.

The challenge from rising prices, he said in a written statement Friday, “underscores the importance that Congress move without delay to pass my Build Back Better plan, which lowers how much families pay for health care, prescription drugs, child care, and more.”

“For anyone who, like me, is concerned about costs facing American families, passing BBB is the most immediate and direct step we can take to deliver,” Biden said.

Golden favors many of the policies included in the bill, though he has expressed concern about its cost, but most of his ire has focused on the inclusion of more federal tax breaks for those with high property taxes.

Hiking the property deduction is a priority for many lawmakers from states with high property taxes and a lot of wealthy residents, such as New York, California, New Jersey and southern New England.


“A good SALT (state and local tax) deal would roll back the tax breaks for millionaires while protecting the small number of truly middle-class families who benefit from the deduction,” Golden said.

He denounced talk of a compromise that would cut off the additional deductions for families earning more than $550,000 annually.

“My constituents are hard-working people,” Golden said, who “don’t make anywhere near $550,000 a year.”

Golden said they don’t think wealthy people “need another federal tax break, no matter where they live.”

Plus, he said, “they have a healthy skepticism about the Washington establishment and suspect that no matter which party is in power, political elites tend to look out for themselves and their well-connected donors.”

“I share that skepticism, which is why I think it’s so important that we get this right,” Golden added.

“In the coming days, congressional Democrats will have the opportunity to put those suspicions to rest and send a clear signal about who we are for — the working class or the millionaire class. One thing is for certain: We cannot be both.”

Senate leaders have said they would like to see the bill passed this month. If they approve it, their revised version would have to go back to the House for a vote before Biden could sign it into law.

Golden has indicated he might support the bill after the Senate makes changes to it.

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