All but one Senate Republican early Saturday voted to pass its version of a tax overhaul, a narrow, 51-49 margin that could raise taxes on millions of Americans, cause 13 million to lose health insurance, and expand deficits by $1.4 trillion in 10 years.
However, it’s not too late to stop this corrupt bill. First, the Senate and House versions are different and must be reconciled, then the House and Senate both must separately approve the compromise.
Polls say that some three-fourths of the country is against the measure; it’s time to voice that opposition.
Already, some opponents are creative. The Communications Workers of America union has asked employers including AT&T and Verizon to guarantee the $4,000 annual raise that tax-overhaul proponents claim will happen.
“President Trump and the Republican Congress have been trying to sell this corporate tax cut to working families by making big claims about wage increases, investment and job growth that don’t seem to be supported by the evidence,” said CWA president Chris Shelton. “We’re going straight to the people who know how corporations plan to spend the billions of dollars being handed over to them – the CEOs – and asking them if they intend to keep the promises that Trump is making on their behalf.”
Negotiated in secret, the 497-page “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act” could permanently cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy while only temporarily relieving some working- and middle-class Americans’ tax burdens; revive the debunked “trickle-down” economic notion; limit or kill tax deductions including mortgages, medical expenses, write-offs for teachers and graduate students, and state and local taxes (trimmed in the Senate version; eliminated in the House’s 227-205 passage Nov. 16); hurt the renewable-energy sector, the historic preservation tax credit and rural hospitals; OK oil-drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; spark an interest-rate hike; encourage donating to private schools, hurting public education; require borrowing billions, burdening future generations; and weaken the nation’s safety net, from Medicare to health insurance.
In fact, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last week commented that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is now unaffordable, remarking, “The reason CHIP is having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore.”
Public-policy professor Lily Batchelder of New York University’s School of Law said Congress’ bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) shows that about 100 million U.S. households under the House bill (and more under the Senate version) would either get no tax cut or would get a tax increase.
So, why cut taxes on the already rich and increase taxes for the rest of us (80 percent will see a hike or a “benefit” of less than $100 by 2027, studies say)? Corporate profits are soaring and companies aren’t investing or hiring, but buying back stock and issuing dividends to shareholders, reports Bloomberg.
The GOP is serving its affluent campaign contributors and scoring what Republicans hope will be a political victory.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) revealed his loyalties in a comment to the Des Moines Register, saying that helping investors is good, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
The JCT also reports that the measure would not pay for itself, as Republicans claim, that families earning less than $75,000 a year would face higher, not lower taxes, and that it would add at least $1 trillion to the national debt.
Moody’s Investment Service announced its analysis: “The tax reform measure that passed the Senate is negative overall for state and local government finances,” according to Moody’s vice president Nick Samuels. It “would reduce disposable income for many taxpayers, likely outweighing the positive effect of lower federal rates on consumption [and] reduce financial flexibility by increasing political resistance to tax increases at the state and local level.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying, “This proposal appears to be the first federal income-tax modification in American history that will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy. This is simply unconscionable.”
Republicans may satisfy their donors and claim a legislative victory, but the financial results and political selfishness about 2018’s elections could backfire.
For now, call the Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask the operator to transfer you to your Representative or Senators, who may need reminding that they work for us.
“This is not over yet,” tweeted U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) “The House will still need to act on the Senate bill. It’s up to every American who believes in the ‘We the People’ vision of our democracy to stop this bill before it gets to the President’s desk.”
Contact Bill at Bill.Knight@hotmail.com.