The Republican healthcare bill is nothing more than a tax break for the richest Americans at the expense of America’s most vulnerable. Now, one of America’s richest men has declared that the bill should be called the “Relief for the Rich Act” because of how much he will be saving in taxes.
In an interview with PBS News Hour, billionaire Warren Buffett told reporter Judy Woodruff that if the GOP bill is passed he would save nearly $700,000 a year in taxes. Buffett stated:
“There’s nothing ambiguous about that. I will be given a 17 percent tax cut. And the people it’s directed at are couples with $250,000 or more of income. You could entitle this, you know, Relief for the Rich Act or something.”
Buffett also pointed out a fact that many pundits and journalists have overlooked: wealthy members of congress are literally voting for their own tax breaks. While the salary for lawmakers is below the threshold for the windfall legislation, many of them have higher incomes not directly from congress. Buffett stated:
“If you look at the disclosures, [many members of congress] have substantial other income. If they get to higher than $250,000, as a married couple, or $200,000 as a single person, they have given themselves a big, big tax cut, if they — if they voted for this.”
We often think of Congressmen and Senators going to Washington on behalf of the wealthy — serving in D.C. to benefit faceless, nameless “rich people.” We fail to connect the reality that, comparatively speaking, many members of congress are wealthy enough to benefit from their own tax breaks.
Of the top twenty-five income earners in the House of Representatives for the year 2014, seventeen are Republicans who stand to benefit from what Buffett termed the “Relief for the Rich Act.” These aren’t politicians doing the bidding of their rich masters; they’re politicians benefiting themselves.
Anytime there is a discussion about using politics as a means of taking care of society, some aspiring pundit miss-attributes Elmer T. Peterson’s famous quote to Benjamin Franklin or Alexis de Tocqueville and boastfully, if incorrectly, reminds us:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits.”
How many times has this been used to attack the notion that Americans should use political power to promote the general welfare? And yet, here we are. The Republican Party has sent officials to Washington that are “voting itself largess out of the public treasury” and it is only causing the poor, the elderly, and the most vulnerable to lose access to insurance.
Every citizen, journalist, and concerned commentator should henceforth refer to the Republican healthcare bill as the “Relief to the Rich Act” and begin asking every Republican member of congress that has an income above the $250,000 threshold why they are voting tax breaks to themselves at the expense of their most vulnerable constituents.
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