“You might have thought Democrats would be eager to tax America’s 660 billionaires whose fortunes have increased by $1.8 trillion since the start of the pandemic,” wrote Robert Reich, an author and columnist who was U.S. labor secretary in the Obama administration. That amount alone “could fund half of Biden’s plan — and still leave the billionaires as rich as they were before the pandemic began,” Reich wrote in The Guardian on Sunday.
Senior House Democrats instead decided to raise revenue the “traditional” way — taxing annual income, “rather than giant wealth,” Reich explained.
Democrats also could have targeted America’s biggest corporations — “awash in cash but paying a pittance in taxes,” Reich wrote. Among S&P 500 or Fortune 500 corporations, 39 paid absolutely “no federal income tax from 2018 to 2020. Yet they reported a combined $122 billion in profits to their shareholders,” Reich noted.
Yet “remarkably,” the Democrats decided to set corporate tax rates “below the level they were at when Barack Obama was in the White House,” wrote Reich.
So what gives?
Democrats don’t want to mess with wealth because they’re controlled by wealth, Reich wrote. Many of them rely on that wealth to finance their election, he explained. “They also dread becoming targets of well-financed ad campaigns accusing them of voting for ‘job-killing’ taxes.”
Republicans “sold their souls to the moneyed interests long ago, but the timidity of House Democrats shows just how loudly big money speaks these days even in the party of Franklin D Roosevelt,” Reich wrote.
“The looming debate over taxes is really a debate over the allocation of wealth and power,” and that issue is only going to become more pressing and more critical, warned Reich.
“Behind it will be this simple but important question: Which party represents average working people, and which shills for the rich?”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.