GOP tax bill remakes American life

And for most Americans, not for the better.

The GOP tax bill has turned into something far larger and more sinister than a tax cut for corporations and wealthy people, although taxing the middle class to subsidize the GOP’s campaign donors remains one of its foremost objectives. But beyond that, it’s evolving into a far-reaching social revolution.

And with the bill within a couple votes and possibly only a few days away from passing into law, it’s time to ring the alarm bells. 

It has become a vehicle to impose the GOP’s broad social agenda on a country the majority of whose population don’t want it.

But first, let’s look at the subsidy aspect. This is straightforward and obvious: “By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut.”

Now, let’s compare what it purports to be, to what it actually is. Trump and GOP congressional leaders are marketing the bill as a $1.5 trillion “rebate for the masses” that will boost economic growth and encourage employers to hire more workers. But in reality, “economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion.” In the past, trickle-down, every time it’s been tried, hasn’t worked. It always ends up just lining the pockets of the rich and widening inequality.

“Either it’s a religious belief [in trickle down theory], a belief where no amount of evidence would change that, or they are using the argument cynically and they just want more money for themselves,” the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, said.

And, from Bruce Bartlett, a former economic adviser to President Reagan,

“What they have here is a big tax cut for the rich paid for with random increases in taxes for various constituencies,” Mr. Bartlett said. “It’s ridiculous. And it’s telling that they are ramming this through without any debate. All of the empirical evidence goes against the tax cut.”

Meanwhile, some of the economic provisions of the bill have broad social ramifications. In particular, repeal of the deduction for state and local taxes will make it harder for communities to spend “on health care, education, public transportation and social services” and impair their ability to “marshal relief for vulnerable people.” The point and purpose of this repeal is that

“Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and [Koch-funded] American Legislative Exchange Council have sought to end the deduction as a means of reining in government spending. … Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.”

The bill also repeals the Obamacare individual mandate, which is expected to result in 13 million more uninsured, and raise premiums by 10% within a year for the rest. Even more ominously, the tax cuts in the bill could trigger Medicare cuts, and serve as a platform for eventually attacking Social Security.

“This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal,” Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, said.

The bill also contains other society-altering provisions, such as “the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses … both on the wish list of the evangelical right.” Also,

“There’s a Christmas-tree aspect to the bill,” said C. Eugene Steuerle, a Treasury official during the Reagan administration,

in which lobbyists for various special interests are adorning the tax bill with gifts for their own constituencies. One of these is opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, a sop to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, which she demanded as the price of her “yes” vote.

Some groups definitely will not find gifts in their stockings. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill “include provisions ending the deductibility of tuition waivers for graduate students, repealing the deduction for interest paid on student loans and taxing university endowments,” which will effectively end graduate school education as it now exists. This feature of the bill seems to reflect the hatred that many Republicans now harbor toward science, intellectuals, and institutions of higher education; and appears to represent an attempt to dismantle America’s system of higher education.

The two overwhelming features of this legislation are its enormous impact on the social and economic organization of American life, and the fact it’s being rushed through the legislative process without discussion or debate. That’s deliberate:

“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes.

It might pass. Many Americans probably won’t look past the fact they’ll get a tax cut of a few hundred dollars, not even realizing it’s temporary and will be replaced by higher taxes within a few years. Few will understand it’s a revolution that fundamentally alters American society for the benefit of the few at their expense, and therefore will fail to rise up against it while protest might make a difference and it can still be stopped. The GOP’s Machiavellian schemers are counting on that.

Read the entire CNBC article here.




Comments are closed.