An old and popular English proverb cautions us that a fool and his money are soon parted. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is taking us all for fools with some of his recent statements and votes.
On January 4, 2007, Senator Baucus spoke on the Senate floor about the imperative need to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT was enacted in 1969 to make sure that a handful of millionaires could not take advantage of completely legal tax deductions and shelters. Because Congress did not index the AMT's income levels to inflation, millions of families earning just over $60,000 today are getting hit with larger tax bills just for playing by the rules.
Sen. Baucus stated, "I am pleased to join with my friend Chuck Grassley, and our fellow Committee colleagues, Senators Schumer, Kyl and Crapo to introduce legislation today that will repeal the individual AMT. Our bill simply says that beginning January 1, 2007, individuals will owe zero dollars under the AMT." Baucus added, "It is truly bizarre that we've designed a tax that deems more children 'excessive deductions' and punishes duly paying your state taxes."
You read that correctly. The Democratic chairman of the Senate's chief tax writing committee said he wants to completely eliminate one of the cruelest components in the income tax code. Maybe we are making progress. Baucus even sponsored a bill, S 55: "A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the individual Alternative Minimum Tax." Five Republican and two Democratic Senators joined him as co-sponsors. One of them, Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, recently offered Baucus and his Democratic colleagues a chance to make good on their promise.
On March 23, Grassley sponsored an amendment to the Senate's 2008 budget bill that read, "To amend the budget resolution for fiscal year 2008 in order to accommodate the full repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax preventing 23 million families and individuals from being subject to the AMT in 2007, and millions of families and individuals in subsequent years." Seems fairly straightforward doesn't it? With the previous statement by Baucus and support of liberals like Chuck Schumer (D-NY), this amendment probably sailed right through with nary a dissenting vote.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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