Sanders, Franken, and Brown Introduce Amendment to Replace Excise Tax

Richard Eskow

Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Sherrod Brown have introduced a bill in the Senate that would replace the excise tax on higher-cost health plans with a tax on very high-earners. This amendment would put the Senate’s proposal in line with the House bill, removing one contentious issue from any future conference to reconcile the House and Senate bills.

The bill’s announcement included the following information:

  • Individuals: Out of the approximately 134 million individual returns filed in 2005, 0.02%, or about 26,000, reported adjusted gross income over $2.4 million.
  • Families: Out of the approximately 100 million joint returns filed in 2005, 0.08%, or about 80,000, reported adjusted gross income over $4.8 million.
  • Under their amendment, say the Senators, “an individual earning less than $2.4 million and a couple earning less than $4.8 million would not see their taxes go up by one dime.”
  • Since 2001, the richest one percent of Americans, received $565.6 billion in tax breaks. In 2010 alone, the wealthiest one percent of Americans is scheduled to receive an additional $108.3 billion in tax breaks.

The Senators circulated a letter to their colleagues yesterday urging them to become co-sponsors. The letter read in part: ” While we are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the last thing the American middle class need right now is a tax on their health benefits.” The letter also said: “99.98% of individuals and 99.92% of families would not see their taxes go up by one dime under the Sanders-Brown-Franken Amendment.”

The Senators said their amendment would raise $151 billion over ten years — two billion dollars more than the estimated revenue from the excise tax.

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