While informed critics and experts say they are now "running out of adjectives to describe how horrible" the GOP's House and Senate tax plans are, the evidence continues to mount showing the manner in which the party's overall approach is a gift to the rich and corporations at the expense of low- and middle-income families, millions of whom who will see their taxes actually go up while key social programs like public education, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will face massive cuts.
"No good can come of this plan unless you are wealthy or a corporation," declared the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy on Saturday alonside their release of an updated analysis of the GOP senator's plan.
So the remaining question for is not whether the bill is awful (or any other pointed adjective). The question is this: Can it be stopped?
And with the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. next week, the various groups aligned against the Republican effort say time is running short to prevent Congress from ramming passage through in the weeks ahead. In this must-read thread, posted online Saturday, Sunjeev Bery, MoveOn.org's #NotOnePenny campaign director, laid out the plan to thwart Republican efforts in the coming days, but warned there was tremendous pressure being put on Republican lawmakers from leadership and the White House to get this passed. In terms of targeted actions people should take before the holiday, Bery urged:
How can you help? 23/x— Sunjeev Bery (@SunjeevBery) November 18, 2017
1. Call your 2 Senators and 1 Rep in Congress. 202-224-3121
2. Ask your friends to do the same (and confirm that they did).
3. If you have Republican Members of Congress -- GO TO THEIR OFFICES. Ask to meet with their staff. Bring your friends.
While Americans for Tax Fairness has put out this "13 Terrible Things About the House Republican Tax Plan" (pdf), the Senate this week voted out of a committee their version of a tax bill that also hammers the working class and sets the stage for eviscerating safety net programs in the name of giving corporations a permament tax cut. According to this breakdown by the ATF, Senate plan offers clear and present inequities between what it would cut from the budget over the next decade versus what it gives in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy:
- A $1.3 trillion cut to Medicaid and other healthcare programs vs. a $2 trillion cut in corporate tax rates.
- An $800 billion cut to housing, infrastructure, education, medical research, and other non-defense “discretionary” spending vs. a $770 billion tax cut for hedge fund managers, Wall Street lawyers, real estate developers (like President Trump) and other wealthy owners of “pass-through” businesses.
- A $473 billion cut to Medicare a $440 billion tax cut for the wealthy (including Trump) from eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax.
- A $200 billion cut to education, job training, and social services vs. a repeal of the estate tax costing $240 billion, which only benefits estates worth at least $5.5 million.
On Thursday, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation released an analysis showing that the House version would increase the cost of college for students and their families by $71 billion over the next decade.
And while the plan would end deductions for personal medical expenses, student loan interests, teachers who buy supplies for their classrooms, graduate student waivers, and local and state taxes, eagle-eyed observers noticed this week that it includes a tax deduction for those privileged enough to own private jets.
So let me make sure I understand this, @petterroskam; I can no longer deduct my state and local taxes, medical expenses, or student loan interest, but the 1% get a break for their private jets? #BillionairesFirst @SenDuckworth @SenatorDurbin @SenSanders @realDonaldTrump— ChristineSpores (@ckspores) November 18, 2017
As the Guardian summarizes on Saturday, "With two versions of the bill now under discussion in Congress, the final shape of the plan is still unclear but some losers and winners are emerging. The clear winners? Rich people and corporations. The clear losers? Poor people, the vulnerable. And America."
Meanwhile, one Wall Street executive admitted to Vanity Fair's William D. Cohan that even many in the financial industry and the corporate class know this is a Grade A scam to the majority of the nation's taxpayers.
"It's a Ponzi scheme," the executive said, warning that the Senate's #BillionairesFirst plan could unleash a national housing crisis (by eliminating the federal tax deduction for state property taxes) and might be the "first tax cut in American history that actually results in a recession."
If Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn were being more honest, reports Cohan,
he’d admit what most chief executives are saying privately, and some publicly. "The Trump team is arguing that massively cutting taxes for corporations will somehow translate into significant wage increases for working people," David Mendels, the former C.E.O. of publicly traded software company Brightcove wrote last week. "This argument fundamentally disregards everything we know about how companies actually decide to hire and how much to pay their employees. As a C.E.O. (and in previous roles) I was involved in hiring and determining salaries for thousands of people over 25 years. From real-world experience I can tell you that tax rates literally never came up in any discussion about hiring or pay levels." Occam’s razor, he added, is the best rubric to predict what will happen when you give investors more money in the absence of increased demand: they’ll keep it.
Howard Schultz, the billionaire executive chairman of Starbucks, was more blunt: "This is not tax reform," he said at the DealBook conference in New York last week. "This is a tax cut. It's fool's gold that he wants to take the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. For what purpose? Is that profit going to go back to the people who need it the most? Is that going to help half the country that doesn’t have $400 in their bank account for a crisis?
And the answer to that final question was this, Schultz concluded: "No."