The Corner

Democrats Suddenly Change Mind, Pass AMT Patch

The Senate voted last night, 88-5, to pass a clean one-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch without a tax increase. I am not going to hold my breath until Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias admit that they were completely wrong about the AMT debate, but this proves it. The fact that 88 senators (and all Republicans present) just voted for a “clean” patch, the very second it was offered, is more proof that Democrats have been bottling it up all along with demands that it include tax increase.

In the Senate, they have been bottling it up more reluctantly than in the House, so it’s little wonder that side of the dam broke first. House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel has been most determined to use the AMT patch to raise taxes. He feels that Harry Reid just sold him out. In fact, even after the Senate bill passed last night, Rangel was still insisting that the House would not move AMT without raising taxes — he called this “responsible AMT relief.”

So important is this tax increase that Democrats missed an important deadline for passing the AMT patch weeks ago — this will already result in many Americans getting their tax refund back late next spring.

The Senate-passed bill did not include the $80 billion tax increase (over ten years) that House Democrats had earlier insisted was absolutely necessary in order to patch the AMT . According to Rangel’s logic, it is impossible to give tax relief to overcharged AMT taxpayers, unless we overcharge them with a different tax to make up for it.

But Senate Democrats — mirabile dictu – somehow found a way, and almost unanimously. So let’s hope, for the sake of all you “rich” people out there (that includes you if your income and that of your spouse add up to $100,000 this year), that Rangel drops his demands for a tax increase and House Democrats follow the Senate’s lead in capitulating to the Republicans on AMT.

Let’s also hope they abolish PayGo accounting — a dumb way of tallying things whose only supporters are beltway eggheads.

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