Golden Opposes Tax Breaks for Millionaires, Commits to Working with Senate to Improve Build Back Better Act Before Vote

November 18, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) released the following statement this evening announcing his vote against the House version of the Build Back Better Act, citing in particular the tax giveaways to the wealthy that are currently in the bill. After passage, the bill heads to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo revisions before coming back to the House. 

“Throughout consideration of the Build Back Better Act, I have been focused on getting the best possible deal for my constituents. That means digging into the details of the legislation and offering constructive feedback on how to improve the bill, as I have for the past several months (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). I believe we’ve made progress so far, but there is still time left, and it’s not too late to do better. I will be voting no tonight, but that doesn’t mean I will oppose a final version of this bill if some meaningful changes are made to this legislation.”

Giveaways to the Wealthy

“First and foremost, the president has committed not only that this bill will be paid for but also that the wealthy will pay for it. Unfortunately, the bill before us today does not meet either of those tests. As it stands, the largest single provision in the Build Back Better Act is a $280 billion tax giveaway to millionaires, and the bill has abandoned the opportunity to adopt a tax on billionaires that would ensure that the ultra wealthy pay taxes just like working people. I can’t accept that these wealthy giveaways represent the best deal I can get for my constituents. 

“Many of my colleagues argue this major line item is worth accepting to pass the rest of the bill. I disagree: the SALT giveaway in the Build Back Better Act is larger than the child care, pre-K, healthcare or senior care provisions of the bill. As a result, the legislation would give a millionaire nearly 20 times more money than it would provide a low-income family through the Child Tax Credit. 

“To add insult to injury, this SALT provision applies retroactively, allowing wealthy people to rake in their windfalls from the past year, while programs that could really help people in the Build Back Better Act — like those that cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors — are delayed until 2024. Democrats should be the party of working and middle class people, and we have to do better than this. At a minimum, the SALT provisions in this bill need to be seriously dialed back. While my House colleagues have so far been unwilling to address this issue, some members of the Senate are considering ways to limit this massive giveaway. One option under discussion would be to keep current law’s $10,000 cap in place, but exempt households under a certain income threshold. In the days ahead, I will work with any willing senators and the White House to fix this extremely misguided policy. 

“Unfortunately, the giveaways to the wealthy don’t end there. Despite some progress, the Build Back Better Act still accepts regressive GOP changes to the tax code from their 2017 tax bill rather than choosing to undo those giveaways to the rich while retaining the parts that were good for the middle class and small businesses. Too many programs — like the expanded Child Tax Credit — will give federal money to wealthy households that don’t need it. These benefits for the wealthy come at the expense of my constituents, who deserve an enhanced Child Tax Credit that runs for longer than a single year. Prior to the GOP’s 2017 tax bill, the Child Tax Credit went to families making $130,000 and no more. We should not be doubling down on the Republicans’ efforts to redefine the middle class as households making as much as $400,000.”

We Should Learn from Recent History

“The federal government has pumped $6 trillion into the economy in the last 18 months. Much of that spending was needed, but as I have pointed out, the most recent stimulus spending was larger than necessary and came too soon in the wake of the bipartisan $900 billion COVID relief package from December 2020. Many Mainers are feeling the consequences of this in the form of rising prices every time they go to the grocery store or refill their gas tank. While a variety of factors contribute to inflation, Congress can’t wash its hands of the role it has played.

“Scrutinizing every program created and dollar spent in this bill to determine how it might better benefit our constituents and to ensure it is paid for by millionaires and billionaires is key to it being a better deal for working and middle class Americans. By continuing to work not only to pay for this bill but also to reduce budget deficits, Democrats can responsibly invest in our constituents without placing the burden of that spending on future generations.”

What I’ll Be Doing to Improve this Bill

“I have been open and honest about my concerns and priorities in this bill with my constituents, the White House, and House and Senate negotiators over the past few months, and demonstrated that I will work to affect positive changes to the legislation. I am ready to build on this work in the weeks ahead.

“I will continue to advocate that we follow through on the president's commitment by paying for these middle class investments by raising revenue from the millionaires and billionaires who can afford it. It is not too late to complete work on the Wyden billionaire tax proposal and to limit any SALT changes to middle-class households. 

“In addition to addressing the concerns I’ve laid out above, this bill is also an opportunity to make key investments that would make a big difference in rural communities like many in Maine that are experiencing hardship. That is why I have advocated for -- and in the coming days will continue to work towards -- the inclusion of several key investments that could have a big impact in Maine. These include: 

  • A major investment to support Maine’s lobstering community, which is bearing the brunt of extremely misguided federal regulations due in part to the pressures created by climate change.
  • Improvements to renewable tax credits in the bill that would provide greater opportunities for BTU and wood-fiber insulation to be a more affordable alternative to reduce oil and gas dependency. 
  • An additional investment in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help people in Maine and across the country as they confront rising energy costs this winter.
  • Support for forest products manufacturers within the BBB’s Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment Program. 

“My vote today is not the final word. The Senate must take up and pass legislation, which would then come back to the House for final consideration. For as much as the public and media have talked about reconciliation over the past few months, the legislative process is not yet complete. I will continue to stay at the table and negotiate for the best deal possible until the very last opportunity.”

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