Let’s Stop the GOP’s Biggest Grift of All

Julie Chinitz

Republican leadership isn’t subtle with their looting of the public treasury these days.

Last Friday, Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, resigned for sticking the public with a more than $1 million bill for his personal use of private charter and military planes.

This bit of malfeasance surprised no one. Price’s brazen trading of drug corporation stocks while pushing legislation on their behalf as a congressman should have derailed his confirmation. It didn’t.

Yet Price is far from alone. Plenty of other Trump administration officials, not least Trump himself, have been lining their pockets with perksif not cash outright. It now seems that more government appointees have been riding high on the public dime: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke all face similar allegations.

This abuse of the public’s trust – and resources – is outrageous and enraging, but pretty skimpy compared to the right’s years-long raiding and dismantling of public services to the benefit of private profiteers.

This long grift now culminates in the tax and budget plans GOP lawmakers want to rush through Congress. These plans amount to a corporate and billionaire-class plunder of our public resources – and the services they fund: health care, education, housing, and our basic infrastructure.

Here’s a little more about what’s in the GOP’s tax and budget plans, and how to stop this raiding of the public’s treasury and trust, just like we’ve blocked three bills to repeal health care.

A Tax Plan For Plutocrats

Last Tuesday, GOP leaders announced a plan to slash taxes for corporations and the rich. If you’re clearing about $700,000 a year – and aren’t one of the wealthy who cares about the common good – you can greet this scheme as good news.

For the rest of us, it’s awful news. It means Medicare, Medicaid, and many other services are on the line. Plus, under this scheme, taxes will go up for many families that are just scraping by while the rich benefit.

In all, the Trump-Ryan plan would cut federal public revenue by $2.4 trillion over ten years, even though taxes will go up for almost 30 percent of people with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 and, potentially, for many families with incomes below that amount.

These tax increases will pay not for health care, food, or housing – a good use of public funds – but to hike the income of the richest one percent of families in the U.S. They’d see their after-tax income rise by 8.5 percent. Here are just some of the giveaways for corporations and multimillionaires:

  • Slashes corporate tax rates by 40 percent and creates new write-offs
  • Rewards corporations for hoarding profits offshore
  • Removes the alternative minimum tax, allowing the rich to deduct their way out of their tax contribution
  • Eliminates the inheritance tax on estates valued at $5.5 million (or $11 million for a married couple)
  • Lowers the tax rate for businesses like law firms, hedge funds, and real estate development firms

What We Know So Far

Republican leaders in Congress want to push their corporate-billionaire tax cuts through using the budget reconciliation process. Under this scheme, the House and Senate would each pass budget instructions that clear the path for the plutocrat tax plan by mowing down our essential services.

On Thursday, the House will vote on a budget proposal doing exactly that. The proposal slashes and caps Medicaid, cuts and privatizes Medicare, and assumes the health care repeal that the public has rejected repeatedly since January, among many other cuts.

Senate leaders unveiled their budget proposal last week – a proposal described as “even less fiscally responsible than the House budget plan,” with similar rollbacks to public services. The Senate is expected to vote on this plan mid-month.

Notably, not included in any of these proposals is a requirement that Medicare negotiate prices with drug corporations, which would yield savings for the public – but would also cut into the investments of multi-millionaires like former Health Secretary Tom Price.

Don’t Be Shy

The right wing has been explicit and aggressive in its agenda to make our country more racially and economically unequal. This agenda pushes people away from the ballot box, out of the doctor’s office, and off the spreadsheets that make up our public budgets.

That’s their big grift.

Those of us who believe in political and economic democracy should be explicit, too. We expect corporations and the rich to contribute adequately to the common good.

On Wednesday, October 4, People’s Action member organizations and many other grassroots groups will be holding public actions to demand that this budget be rejected. You can take action today by calling your representative in the House at (888) 516-5820  and tell them to vote no on the House budget.

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