If progressives drive bipartisan infrastructure talks off course, where will they go instead? Politico reports on congressional progressive lawmakers who oppose the current bipartisan infrastructure negotiations. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ed Markey, joined Sen. Bernie Sanders in opposing the nascent plan and insisting any compromise address climate change. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says her members oppose negotiations unless Democrats also commit to a separate and bigger bill. Rep. Daniel Kildee said of Democrats: “most would prefer a negotiated deal” with GOP senators but that “most everybody’s resigned to” going it alone.
Then there’s the budget. House Democrats hope to complete their work on fiscal 2022 appropriations by the end of July. Senate Democrats hope to start their process in July. As in past years, chances are Congress won’t wrap up the spending bills until after the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. The budget reconciliation process, which Democrats hope to use to pass at least part of Biden’s domestic spending agenda, will move on its own track.
Why are the (ultra) rich so (very) different from you and me? The New York Times examines how, and why, the US tax system has allowed the 25 richest people in the US to pay few, if any, taxes. Listen here.
Maybe it’s time to tax them more? The Hill reports that progressives are pushing for higher taxes on the very wealthy. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden may soon release details of his plan to tax wealthy people’s investment gains annually. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has renewed her call for an annual wealth tax. President Biden prefers taxing unrealized capital gains at death because his aides think it’s easier to implement than a wealth tax or an accrual tax. None of these ideas is likely to win any Republican votes so would need to be included in a reconciliation bill. But will any get the backing from moderate Democrats?
A charity bought $278 million in patients’ hospital debt—but why? The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) on RIP Medical Debt, which uses charitable donations to wipe out unpaid medical bills. In a deal with a nonprofit hospital system covering Tennessee and Virginia, Ballad Health, the charity will buy and pay off the debt of 82,000 low-income patients. Many might have qualified for financial assistance from the hospital but did not apply. Nonprofit hospitals are exempt from federal, state, and local tax in exchange for offering community benefits, such as uncompensated care.
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