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Senate Balks at AIG Tax Punishment

Anthony Randazzo
March 25, 2009, 5:34pm

Given the backlash the Congress suffered over the House AIG tax punishment bill last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has slowed pushing the same bill through the Senate. The White House reacted sharply to the tax on bonuses bill, and scores of concern over how the bill will lead to unintended consequences have dampened support for the measure. At this point, the Senate is unlikely to consider the measure until after the Easter recess.

The tax on bonuses is wrong on many levels. First, its using the power to tax as a punishment, instead of a way to raise revenue for the Federal government. Such a philosophical shift is dangerous and it speaks to the attitude of demonizing the rich that is developing in this country. Such an attitude threatens to kill the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that has made this nation great. Suddenly profit is a bad thing, and the incentives to make money are being reduced. This will only stifle the country.

And second, there are the ex post facto and "bill of attainder" concerns. Even Jay Leno realized that targeting a certain group of civilians with a tax is a scary place to go. And even the fact that we would consider pass a law taxing a legal compensation package that was signed a year ago and concluded three months ago is frightening. This strikes at the very foundation of contractual agreements that let this nation's rule of law defend its economic growth. 


Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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