The Senate on Wednesday approved a tax deal between the White House and congressional Republicans. The vote was 81 to 19. Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against the $858 billion package. He supported parts of the bill to continue tax cuts for the middle class and extend unemployment benefits. He opposed giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, which he said will deepen deficits and grow the gap between the rich and the rest of America. Sanders proposed an amendment that he told colleagues would have let Bush-era tax breaks for the top 2 percent expire on schedule and make other significant changes. The Sanders Amendment received 43 votes, an impressive result for a proposal resisted by the White House and Senate leadership from both sides of the aisle.
“We made an impressive showing for a stronger and fairer proposal that would create more jobs, lower the debt, and do more for Social Security than the deal brokered by the White House and congressional Republicans,” Sanders said. “The fact that we got 43 votes in opposing the president and Republican leadership indicates great discontent with the course we are embarking on.”
The amendment would have struck an estate tax proposal to exempt all but the richest estates. Sanders suggested returning to estate tax rates in effect in 2009 for two years. He would have exempted the first $3.5 million of an estate from taxation and imposed a 45 percent estate tax rate on the value of estates above $3.5 million.
The Sanders amendment would have replaced the payroll tax holiday with a one year extension of the Make Work Pay Credit — a proposal that will provide more tax relief to those who need it most while not threatening the solvency of the Social Security trust fund.
Sanders’ amendment also would have provided a $250 payment to some 58 million senior citizens, veterans and persons with disabilities. Unless Congress acts, senior citizens will be going without a cost of living increase for a second year in a row at a time when the prices they pay for prescription drug and health care are soaring.
Sanders led Senate opposition to the bill, which he critiqued in a marathon 8 ½ hour floor speech on Friday.
To watch Sanders tell senators about his amendment, click here.
To watch Keith Olbermann’s coverage of Sanders’ filibuster, click here.