House Democrats' Plan to Tax the Rich Leaves Vast Fortunes Unscathed

Jonathan Weisman and Jim Tankersley / The New York Times
House Democrats' Plan to Tax the Rich Leaves Vast Fortunes Unscathed Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. (photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News/Getty Images)

The House Ways and Means Committee’s proposal to pay for trillions in social spending leaves wealth gains and inheritances largely alone. It focuses instead on a more traditional target: income.

House Democrats on Monday presented a plan to pay for their expansive social policy and climate change package by raising taxes by more than $2 trillion, largely on wealthy individuals and profitable corporations.

But the proposal, while substantial in scope, stopped well short of changes needed to dent the vast fortunes of tycoons like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, or to thoroughly close the most egregious loopholes exploited by high-flying captains of finance. It aimed to go after the merely rich more than the fabulously rich.

Facing the delicate politics of a narrowly divided Congress, senior House Democrats opted to be more mindful of moderate concerns in their party than of its progressive ambitions. They focused on traditional ways of raising revenue: by raising tax rates on income rather than targeting wealth itself.

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