When President Trump and Congressional Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare earlier this year, the gross unfairness of taking healthcare away from 20-30 million Americans sparked outrage across the country. Members of Congress got an angry earful from constituents every time they went back home. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office got so many calls they had to shut the phone lines down. Despite multiple attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act, Republicans repeatedly failed under a crush of public pressure. Senators of conscience, including Sens. McCain, Murkowski, and Collins put principle over party and stood in opposition when it counted. That is precisely the kind of outrage we need right now as the Trump/GOP tax scam rolls toward passage.
In the face of overwhelming evidence that the Republican plan is a shamelessly giveaway to the wealthy and big corporations, the public must continue to apply as much pressure as possible on elected representatives. (The Senate GOP bill even includes a provision repealing Obamacare’s mandate, and the opposition must rise with equal fervor.) National Committee president Max Richtman sent a letter to the Senate yesterday urging that the bill be defeated.
Now is the time to seize on the opportunity to stop the Trump/GOP tax juggernaut before it wreaks permanent havoc on the lives of the poor, the sick, the working class, and the elderly. Yesterday the Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill to the floor on a 12-11 party-line vote. A handful of GOP Senators still oppose the plan, but the number is dwindling by the day and no doubt most of them will cave in the end. Meanwhile, in an effort to woo holdouts, Senate tax writers are making the bill even more generous to the wealthy.
“[A] change demanded by… two unhappy senators — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana — would further lower the tax bills of people like President Trump who earn most of their income through limited liability companies, partnerships and other ‘pass through’ businesses that do not withhold taxes on the money passed along to their owners.” – New York Times, 11/28/17
One could rightly ask, where is the outrage on the part of deficit hawks and so-called GOP moderates? What does it even mean to be a moderate who could vote for such a regressive piece of legislation? Even Maine Senator Susan Collins is negotiating with tax writers instead of remaining firm in opposition. Hopes that the requisite three GOP Senators will retain the courage to buck this bill are fading fast.
We need to look past the obvious distractions of Trump’s latest tweets and petty feuds and keep our eye on the ball. The Trump/GOP tax scam is being served up for the benefit of billionaires and corporate titans in the party’s donor base. Republicans have admitted as much: big donations will dry up if they don’t get this done.
Months of careful and credible analysis has laid bare the truth about who will pay the price for this irresponsible legislation. While the 1% get trillions in tax relief, many working class Americans will see their taxes go up in the next ten years:
Almost every independent evaluation of the House and Senate plans has found a $1 trillion tax cut for corporations and changes to the individual tax code that would benefit wealthier Americans while leading to millions of middle-class and lower-income people paying higher taxes than they do now. – Dylan Scott, Vox
Those earning under $10,000 would see their taxes rise by a cumulative $100 million; those earning between $10,000 and $20,000 would see taxes rise by $638 million; those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would see taxes rise by almost $1.2 billion; and those earning between $30,000 and $40,000 would see taxes rise by $653 billion. – Politifact.
According to Politifact, some 40 million Americans would pay higher taxes in 2027 than they would today. Older Americans would be hit particularly hard. Not only might their taxes go up if they are not fortunate enough to inhabit the upper income echelons, but the tax legislation would automatically trigger $25 billion in immediate cuts to Medicare. The projected $1.5 trillion the tax cuts would add to the national debt would no doubt spur Republicans to pursue even deeper cuts to seniors’ earned benefits, leading to benefit cuts and higher eligibility ages for Medicare and Social Security. Melissa Favreault of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center warns:
Unless the tax cuts spur immense economic growth, which many prominent economists doubt based on decades of evidence, these cuts will harm future workers and Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. – Melissa Favreault, Tax Policy Center
Not to mention that the Trump/GOP budget plan calls for over a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicaid, which millions of seniors rely on for long-term care. Is it fair to punish current and future generations of seniors so the rich and multinational corporations can pocket trillions they don’t even need?
Republican members of Congress continue to shill for the plan, perpetuating the lie that it provides significant tax relief for the middle class (it clearly doesn’t) or that it will grow the economy and create jobs (a myth disproven by history time and again). The mainstream media focuses largely on the “horse race” aspect of the tax debate – who’s up, who’s down, how badly President Trump and the GOP need a “win.” Meanwhile, we know who loses, including large swaths of President Trump’s own base in the working class, which is perhaps the most egregious betrayal of all. As Dylan Scott points out in Vox, candidate Trump promised to bring a new kind of populism to Washington. “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” said the President at his inaugural.
“Trump promised that the big, beautiful tax cut Republicans would pass would be a tax cut for the middle class. He went so far as to claim that he himself, allegedly worth $10 billion, would not benefit. He pledged that he wouldn’t be swayed by the Washington lobbying class.” – Dylan Scott, Vox
Those millions of working class Americans seem to have been all but forgotten now. The President and the Republicans in Congress are clearly hoping that most voters are, in fact, distracted or looking the other way as they pull off one of the biggest transfers of wealth in U.S. history. But we must not look the other way, or soon it will be too late.