While tax reform was expected to be a populist slam dunk for Republicans, who now own and operate the entire U.S. government, the plans, now in the Senate, are a festering disaster.
So desperate for any kind of political win in an environment where empowered Republicans can seem to do absolutely nothing right, the House and Senate have tied their political wagons to one of the biggest government scams of our generation.
Both the House and Senate tax-reform plans are naked attempts to give massive breaks to the country’s wealthiest citizens and businesses and throw the poor and middle class a few bones. Bare bones. In many cases, no bones.
What makes this worse, is that the rich will get much richer at the expense of a mushrooming national deficit, adding conservative estimates of $1.5 trillion in debt to the already massive mountain of unpaid U.S. loans.
The House plan is so mean it pads the wallets of the rich by screwing middle-class taxpayers out of critical tax deductions for things such as school loan interest, state taxes and for some, medical expenses. Independent experts agree both plans depend on phony baloney math and numbers to hide the fact that it’s a huge racket.
And the Senate plan? That’s gotten even worse. This version offers the same mathematical cheats and lies to pretend it doesn’t balloon the national debt. But Republican members of the Senate — this is an entirely GOP operation dependent on a parliamentary trick to keep Democrats from having anything to do with it — have sneaked in unrelated poisons, such as anti-abortion-rights measures, Obamacare repeal legislation and a host of inappropriate Trojan horses.
Both the House and Senate plans are unprincipled, shameless scams that not only ignore the needs of the poor and middle class, but changes would sucker punch those hurting millions by reversing the cuts after a few years.
Lies: The plan is a sham touting that it will boost the middle class. Experts such as the independent and time-honored Tax Policy Center and others agree, this plan primarily benefits the rich in the short term and long term. And while some studies agree that some parts of the middle class will benefit some in the short term to create a marginal net reduction in taxes, many more will not see any relief or will see their net tax bills increase. And after a few years, taxes will rise sharply for many middle-class taxpayers because of the underlying legislative conceits Republicans used to sneak this plan around Democrats. Sadly, Republicans are now planting bombs in the Senate bill that not only would directly and immediately push up health-insurance premiums, but long-term some hidden measures would undermine the entire health market and system. The AARP is warning members that if these plans pass to expect at least a $100 a month increase in premiums created solely by one change in this so-called tax bill.
Damned Lies: These tax cuts will pay for themselves because they’ll heat up the economy. This is a whopper for two reasons. First, history and experts agree, no tax cut ever really pays for itself. The idea is that more people paying less in taxes will spend more money on stuff they pay taxes on. Or, the theory depends on businesses, saving tax dollars, roll it all into employee salaries, purchases or additional hires. They don’t. Business owners agree that isn’t just because of greed. Business and payroll expansion depends on a great deal more than just cash on hand. Economic development just doesn’t happen this way, and Republican backers of these bills know it. Most importantly, even if it were true, these plans give the money to the wrong people to stimulate real economic growth. A wide range of economists agree that businesses thrive and grow when the vast middle class has money to spend. These plans, according to numerous reputable economic and budget analysts, do not give near enough to the middle class to generate the growth needed to close the deficit loophole created by either of these GOP plans.
The U.S. tax code is a nightmare filled with loopholes and giveaways to all kinds of special interest groups, most of whom gave huge sums of money to lawmakers to legislate tax breaks their way.
Tax reform is desperately needed and long overdue.
But the vast majority of Americans, the 99 percent of Americans, don’t need or benefit from what the GOP House, Senate and White House are proposing. They know it. Congressional members know it.
The only hurry here is the one that Republicans created by trying to create tax policy from a budget bill, which is now laden with social policy time bombs.
Allow the entire Congress to create and publicly hear legislation that simplifies paying taxes for individuals and businesses, forces huge American companies to quit hiding cash and profits abroad, eases suffocating financial pressure on the dwindling middle class, reduces the burden on struggling small businesses, deals only with tax reform, and allows America to pay its bills.
These measures, and especially the Senate version, do none of those things. None. Kill the bills and start over.