Fresh off their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Republicans are aglow with the hope of passing sweeping tax cuts.
It’s as if Trump has cast himself as the villain in a cheap horror film. In this B movie, he flails around with an axe, trying to hack unsuspecting victims in their sleep.
First the GOP turned on Medicaid and Medicare, seeking to push millions of children and the poor off health coverage. Now, after being thwarted from that goal by massive public pressure, they hope to carve out rich rewards for their billionaire friends and benefactors.
Their aim is poor, and thus far they’ve failed to land a blow. But don’t be fooled: an axe can be deadly.
The True Cost of Tax Cuts
On Wednesday in Indianapolis, Trump announced details - or really, broad outlines - of the GOP’s new tax plan. They propose eliminating the alternative minimum tax (AMT), repealing the tax deduction for state and local taxes, eliminating the estate tax, slashing corporate tax rates, raising the bottom tax rate while cutting the top, doubling standard deductions, and removing personal exemptions.
It will take a while for a full analysis of the plan and its true details to come out, but it’s clear that by any measure, this plan is a massive transfer of wealth from public coffers to the very rich and big corporations.
By preliminary estimates, the GOP’s tax plan will give away $5 trillion dollars that currently fund schools, hospitals, environmental protections and other essential services.
The Main Event
With health care repeal on hold for now, President Donald Trump and the Congressional Republicans are finally able to turn to their main event, what they came to Washington for in the first place: massive tax cuts for big corporations and the rich.
Their justification for this looting is the notion that when big businesses and the rich get this windfall, they will rush out and create jobs, revving up the engine of the economy and raise all boats.
This is the same “trickle-down” nonsense the GOP has been peddling for forty years. All that’s changed is the salesman knocking at our door.
Time and again, the myth that cutting taxes creates jobs has been proven false. But it’s even less true today than in the past. U.S. corporations are already cash-rich, yet show little interest in opening the spigot to create jobs at home.
Why Is This Happening?
But why is this happening at all? Didn’t Trump promise us a tax plan everyone would love? Didn’t he say he would rebalance the scales of prosperity? At a rally announcing his plan, Trump promised once again that, “we will cut taxes for the everyday, hard-working Americans. People that work so long, so hard, and they have been forgotten. But they're not forgotten any more.”
This has been Trump’s pitch, and promise, for years. As a candidate, he swore to take on the mega-rich and Wall Street, and fight for a tax reform plan that reduces taxes for the middle class.
Back in 2000, Trump even argued for a one-time, 14.5 percent tax on the net worth for the richest Americans. He dropped that proposal quickly. But he promised last year that if elected, his plan would eliminate federal taxes for 31 million households. He has said that the rich will pay the same amount as before, and working people will benefit the most. Repeatedly he has also said, “It’s going to cost me a fortune, which is true.”
Except it’s not.
Most of the measures in the GOP’s tax cuts will only benefit rich people and big corporations. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that “Forty percent of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent.”
Canceling the estate tax is not about small businesses as Trump claims, since it only applies to those with assets worth more than $5.49 million. The Alternative Minimum Tax slated for his chopping block guarantees that the wealthy pay a minimum of taxes. Trump’s plan will only guarantee massive tax cuts for the rich. Most working people will be left guessing as to whether their fortunes will improve or get worse.
This tax plan will screw over the very working families Trump claims to support. The plan will raise taxes on the majority of single-parent households. Many of the modest tax cuts for middle income families are offset by elimination of personal exemptions. And people living in higher tax states will get punished by the elimination of state tax deductions.
What Could Be Done
Of course, if Trump actually wanted to put people to work and rebuild the country, bringing real relief to working families and their communities, he could create public works and public service jobs directly.
This list of things to do is long. It is even longer in the wake of the devastating hurricanes this summer. Why not put people to work recovering and rebuilding Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other places devastated by storms? Not to mention the massive task of rebuilding infrastructure, rebuilding cities, building environmental resilience, etc. Put the country to work instead of blindly hoping the rich will.
The truth is Trump and the Republicans in Congress are not really interested in helping working people and finding them jobs.They are more interested in dismantling health care, education and other government programs, then handing over cash to those who are already making out like bandits.
Trump is no hero in this slasher flick. He’s the creep looming in the shadows with an axe.
This macabre tax proposal is still far from a win. If people are as organized in their outrage as they have been with health care, we have a chance to watch him raise his axe as the music swells, only to swing and miss.