As Congress struggles to pass legislation to boost recovery from the pandemic's economic fallout, tax experts are urging lawmakers to invest in policies that benefit working families by taxing the rich.
Chuck Marr - senior director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - said expanding access to affordable housing, quality child care and other supports can help families re-enter and remain in the workforce, and begin to close a widening racial wealth gap.
He pointed to recent reports showing that the nation's wealthiest households and corporations pay little or no income tax, the nation's primary tax revenue stream.
"And the idea here is just (to) raise taxes on the wealthiest people in the country," said Marr, "and to use that revenue to improve the economic opportunities and stability of working middle-class families."
Coloradans now seeing hundreds of dollars each month deposited in their bank accounts through the temporary Child Tax Credit, a policy projected to dramatically reduce child poverty, would continue to receive those benefits under proposals making their way through Congress.
Democrats also are pushing to expand access to health care and giving all workers access to paid family leave.
Critics warn that expanding safety-net programs will usher in an age of big government, and some lawmakers say raising taxes would slow economic recovery.
Marr said people have become wise to claims that cutting taxes boosts economic growth, and points to polls showing Americans overwhelmingly support raising taxes on the people who can most afford to pay.
"There's just an absence of evidence that cutting taxes for rich people and large multinational corporations has economic benefits," said Marr. "It's sort of the 'trickle down economics' for the last 40 years, and it failed over and over again."
Marr said tax policy can be crafted to narrow the nation's racial wealth gap, or it can continue to allow wealthy families, which are overwhelmingly white, to pay little or no taxes.
Marr said making investments in programs that help the bottom 60 to 80% of households, where people of color are disproportionately represented, would be a step in the right direction.