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Protestors with People's Action rally against President Donald Trump's budget and agenda at Lafayette Park outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 2017. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In Major Victory for Progressives, Democratic Leadership Abandons Tax Rule That Would Have Made Bold Agenda Impossible

"The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families," declared the Congressional Progressive Caucus

Jake Johnson

In a major victory for the growing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and everyone who supports popular solutions like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and tuition-free public college, the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday ditched plans to impose a widely denounced right-wing tax rule that would have made a bold agenda impossible to fund.

"We are pleased to announce that the rules package for the 116th Congress will not include the 3/5 supermajority tax provision promoted by House Republicans in recent years," the CPC wrote on Twitter. "The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families."

Pushed primarily by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and incoming Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the proposed rule would have required a three-fifths supermajority vote to raise individual income taxes on the bottom 80 percent of Americans.

"This is great news for Medicare for All and other progressive priorities."
—Social Security Works
While cloaked in progressive-sounding language, New York Magazine's Eric Levitz argued last month, when it was first floated, that the rule was based on right-wing tropes about taxation and a "betrayal" of the voters who gave the Democrats control of the House.

Echoing this critique, progressive advocacy groups roundly denounced the proposal as a "staggeringly bad," "disastrous," and "absurd" idea that would have effectively given House Republicans veto power over Democratic legislation.

In addition to widespread grassroots opposition, the rule was also publicly condemned by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—the only two House Democrats who publicly opposed the rule.

Given how harmful the measure would have been to their central policy aims, progressives greeted news that the proposal has been scrapped with applause—and a sigh of relief.

"This is great news for Medicare for All and other progressive priorities," Social Security Works wrote on Twitter.

Now that the supermajority tax rule has been scrapped from the incoming House majority's rules package, progressives immediately began to set their sights on defeating "pay-go," another deeply regressive proposal pushed by the Democratic leadership that would require all new spending to be offset by budget cuts or tax increases.

"The pay-go thing is an absurd idea," argued Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the CPC, in an interview earlier this year.


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