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U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R) speak to members of the media in front of the West Wing of the White House February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

GOP's Vague New Tax Plan Can't Hide True Aim: Massive Tax Cuts for Wealthy

New tax framework released by Trump and congressional Republicans follows long legacy of "plutocrats" offering "lower taxes and deregulation"

Jake Johnson

With the nation's attention fixed on the Senate GOP's attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), several congressional Republicans, and two White House aides—who together make up a group called the "big six"—unveiled on Thursday an outline of their tax objectives that critics argued is so vague that it obscures their real aim: to slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

"The statement of the big six today revealed little about their true intentions, which is to craft a plan that will give massive tax breaks to millionaires and wealthy corporations at the expense of the middle class and working families," said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. "As we know from the Republican budget proposals, the tax cuts will mostly be paid for by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other critical services."

The "big six"—which includes Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—has reportedly been working "feverishly" to show some kind of progress on their tax agenda as the Senate GOP's healthcare efforts face fierce opposition.

"As we know from the Republican budget proposals, the tax cuts will mostly be paid for by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other critical services."
—Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness
Though Ryan and company claim their vague plan to lower tax rates "as much as possible" will lift workers and small businesses while boosting economic growth, analysts have argued that in reality their agenda would deepen American's inequality crisis, which is the worst in the industrialized world.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the few concrete tax proposals put forth by the Trump administration thus far would give "astonishing" tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while raising taxes on many middle class families.

And as critics have frequently pointed out, the Trump administration's—and the GOP's—tax agenda cannot be separated from its goal of repealing Obamacare.

A report published by Maplight on Thursday found that Trump's cabinet stands to benefit greatly from eliminating the taxes on the wealthy that are central to the Affordable Care Act.

After examining the financial disclosure forms of top Trump administration officials, Maplight concluded: "the repeal of a 3.8 percent tax on investment income—used to fund subsidies that provide health coverage to roughly 10 million low- and middle-income Americanswould have saved Trump and his top two dozen officials between $3.1 million and $7.8 million, leading to an average tax reduction ranging from $124,200 to $313,700."

Writing for the Project Syndicate, economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are following a long legacy of "right-wing plutocrats" who always offer the same solution: "lower taxes and deregulation."

"Donald Trump is counting on this package to make America great again. It won’t, because it never has," Stiglitz concludes. "When Ronald Reagan tried it in the 1980s, he claimed that tax revenues would rise. Instead, growth slowed, tax revenues fell, and workers suffered. The big winners in relative terms were corporations and the rich, who benefited from dramatically reduced tax rates."


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