John Colson: Tax bill a bad deal for now, and the future
Hit & Run
Whatever else it is, the tax bill now being batted around the halls of Congress certainly is not a reform bill.
And it certainly is not in any way honoring the contract between American workers and their government.
Though we don’t yet know the details of the bill, it does little to simplify the tax code, which was one of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges, although I seem to recall that he leaned a lot more heavily on the phrase “tax cut” than on “tax reform,” so maybe he’s on target after all.
Because that is what this is, in case you haven’t been paying attention for the past few weeks.
Having failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (derisively known as Obamacare, after the former president who got it passed) the Grand Old Party moved right along to cutting the taxes of billionaires, millionaires and corporations of all types and sizes, to the tune of $1.5 trillion over the next decade or so.
That’s right, $1.5 TRILLION. Or, to put it in its longer numeric form, $1,500,000,000,000.
According to one website, if you had spent $1 million every day since the birth of Jesus Christ, you would not have passed the trillion-dollar mark yet. That might give you an idea of the amount we’re talking about.
Anyway, the lion’s share of this proposed tax break would go to the top 1 percent, meaning people who do not need any more money, and who cannot possibly spend even the billions they already control.
But even worse than that is the plain fact that stripping this much revenue out of our government’s coffers will mean big trouble for our government.
For one thing, this is about the same amount of money as Trump pledged to spend on the ballyhooed “infrastructure” repair program he talked a lot about during the campaign leading to the 2016 election.
That’s how much he estimated would need to be spent to bring our nation’s roads, bridges, water systems, sewer systems, airports and much more up to snuff.
Actually, if I recall it correctly, the figure he came up with was $1 trillion, but what’s a few hundred billion dollars here or there?
Anyway, if the tax cut goes through as promised, that will mean $1.5 trillion in lowered revenue over the next decade or so, a period when we can safely predict that inflation will not go away, nor will increases in the costs of everything (if history is any guide), so the negative impact on our economy likely will be even greater than the value of the tax break.
Meanwhile, our infrastructure will continue to crumble if nothing is done, meaning the cost of fixing it will be rising every year, and where will that money be coming from?
I can tell you one thing for sure — it will not be coming out of cuts to the budgets of the defense department or homeland security, two of our president’s pet agencies.
No, the most likely thing will be calls from Republicans to cut into the “entitlement” programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This means the GOP, which has hated those programs for decades, may finally have found a way to take the food from the very mouths of our elderly, our poor and our infirm.
The term itself, “entitlement,” implies that the meager sums of money doled out by these three programs is a giveaway of some kind, a bit of largesse that the rich giveth and so can taketh away (bit of bad grammar there, but you get my meaning).
The fact that these programs function as the only guaranteed retirement money and health-care programs for those who are not rich appears not to figure into the Republican calculations. We, the workers of this country, send some of each paycheck, separate from income taxes, into the maw of the Social Security Administration as savings against those days when we can no longer work due to infirmity or age.
And that is, in essence, a contract with our government that the money will be there when we need it.
Governments have been tapping into those funds, “borrowing” and promising to pay back for decades, but some how the repayment never happens.
And now the GOP, in its rush to give tax gifts to the wealthy, appears to be setting up the biggest dip ever to pay for those tax cuts by pulling money out of Social Security.
Which means Republicans do not care if old people die quicker; if the poor cannot afford to feed and clothe themselves in this, the richest nation on the planet; and if those suffering from maladies of various sorts cannot afford to see a doctor, go to a hospital or buy medicine.
As for the claims that “trickle down” economics will mean all the rest of us benefit when the wealthy get even wealthier, well, those claims were proven wrong back when Ronald Reagan was president, and have not been proven right in the years since.
So when the Republicans in Congress get down to brass tacks this week, make no mistake about it — what they are passing is not tax reform, it is a tax gift to the wealthy and the corporations, at the expense of our collective future.
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