Monosyllabic Pedantry

Friday, March 20, 2009


U.S. House OKs 90% tax on bailout firms' bonuses

12:00 AM CDT on Friday, March 20, 2009

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers, spurred by rising public anger, voted Thursday to impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid to high-income employees by companies getting big government bailouts.

The action in the House was the first move toward reclaiming taxpayer dollars going into such bonuses.

The House bill would impose the 90 percent tax on bonuses given to employees with family incomes above $250,000 at companies that have received at least $5 billion in government bailout money. It would apply to any such bonuses issued since Dec. 31.

The House vote was 328-93 to impose the tax. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate late Thursday.

Some members of both parties raised doubt about whether the legislation could survive a court challenge, saying it was tantamount to a retroactive "bill of attainder," which is banned by the Constitution. Even backers of the bill acknowledged it amounted to an extraordinary use of tax law.


From the US Constitution:

Article 1 Section 9

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Article 1 Section 10

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

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