"The Republican Millionaires Caucus would rather protect tax giveaways for their big corporate donors and people like themselves than help build a lasting economy that works for everyone."
A new analysis by the government watchdog group Accountable.US finds that two-thirds of GOP senators—and more than 40% of House Republicans—are millionaires who stand to personally benefit from obstructing tax hikes on the wealthy proposed under Senate Democrats' reconciliation package, which aims to invest in climate action and the tattered social safety net.
"For corporations to successfully derail reform for working families, they will depend on the help of their millionaire friends in Congress who themselves stand to benefit from maintaining a broken status quo."
—Kyle Herrig, Accountable.US
Provided exclusively to Common Dreams, the report (pdf) spotlights a total of 125 lawmakers who make up what Accountable.US dubs the "Republican Millionaires Caucus," a group characterized as hell-bent on preserving Trump-era tax cuts that "overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest individuals, including themselves."
The new report was accompanied by an online search tool designed to help members of the public determine whether their representatives are among the lawmakers attempting to stonewall the proposed tax increases on the rich.
"The Republican Millionaires Caucus would rather protect tax giveaways for their big corporate donors and people like themselves than help build a lasting economy that works for everyone," Kyle Herrig, the president of Accountable.US, told Common Dreams.
"Under the Trump tax cuts for the rich, big corporations raked in massive profits as the middle class continued to disappear," said Herrig. "Now that new leaders are trying to level the playing field for everyday workers and their families, corporations are spending millions of dollars to stop it—and many in Congress are carrying their water."
While the details have yet to be finalized, the $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal that Senate Democratic leaders outlined last month is expected to call for tax hikes on wealthy individuals and large corporations, as well as billions of dollars in funding to help the Internal Revenue Service crack down on rich tax cheats. Those changes to the heavily skewed tax code would help finance major investments in green energy, child care, long-term care for the elderly and people with disabilities, and other Democratic policy priorities.
Senate Democrats are gearing up to turn their full attention to the reconciliation package as soon as this weekend, when the chamber is poised to advance a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that does not include any tax increases. As Common Dreams reported last month, Senate Republicans stripped IRS enforcement funding from the bipartisan measure.
Congressional Republicans have repeatedly made clear that they view any rollback of the Trump tax cuts—which slashed both the corporate tax rate and the top individual rate—as a "red line" they're unwilling to cross. As such, the GOP is expected to unanimously oppose Democrats' sweeping reconciliation bill.
"In just a few days, our colleagues will start ramming through yet another reckless taxing and spending spree," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) complained in a floor speech on Thursday.
McConnell—whose net worth is estimated to be around $34 million—is one of the Republican lawmakers highlighted in the Accountable.US analysis, which notes that "many members of the Millionaires Caucus already have histories of flaunting their wealth or shamelessly violating the public trust to serve their own interests."
The report cites several specific examples:
- Sen. Ron Johnson, who had a minimum net worth of $14 million in 2018, paid "out of his own pocket" to fly in his children's private jet during the pandemic and demanded a provision of Trump's tax plan that benefited pass-through entities while maintaining a multimillion-dollar stake in his own pass-through company;
- Sen. Rick Scott—who has been worth $91.75 million and abandoned his promise to put his assets in a blind trust when elected—expedited approval of a pipeline that benefited his investments while Florida's governor and enjoyed a 33% increase in wealth during his first year as a U.S. senator; and
- Rep. Darrell Issa has a net worth of $250 million and has repeatedly used his office for personal gain—including arranging $800,000 in earmarks to boost his real estate's value by 60%, attacking the Treasury Department's forced sale of Merrill Lynch after the firm handed over a billion dollars in transactions for him, and repeatedly working to benefit his auto electronics firm.
In opposing tax increases on the wealthy and large corporations, the "Republican Millionaires Caucus" is out of step with the U.S. electorate.
According to a survey (pdf) released Thursday by the progressive polling outfit Data for Progress, a majority of voters overwhelmingly support increasing the corporate tax rate to the pre-Trump level of 28%, hiking taxes on rich individuals, and raising taxes on millionaire investors.
"After years of exploiting tax loopholes at the expense of low and middle-income Americans, corporations were the first in line for taxpayer aid when the pandemic hit as millions of families lost their jobs and their livelihoods," Herrig said. "For corporations to successfully derail reform for working families, they will depend on the help of their millionaire friends in Congress who themselves stand to benefit from maintaining a broken status quo. It's time these lawmakers fix their priorities."