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<p>Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, hold up a sheet of new $1 bills, the first currency notes bearing his and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza's signatures on Nov. 15 at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, hold up a sheet of new $1 bills, the first currency notes bearing his and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza's signatures on Nov. 15 at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

'Like It Was Christmas All Year:' GOP Succeeded in Making 2018 Yet Another Year the Rich Got Richer

"It's time," said one frustrated critic, "for real, progressive tax reform, not more handouts to rich people."

Andrea Germanos

With year two of Republicans' Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) now underway and the party touting the $1.5 trillion tax plan's supposed successes, critics of the unpopular law are spotlighting the party's broken promises and saying the so-called tax scam merely helped to make 2018 another year of bloated corporate profits and enriching the already wealthy.

In fact, the wealthy were "celebrating like it was Christmas all year, which it basically was for them," wrote Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF).

Or, as Patriotic Millionaires put it bluntly, "the rich only got richer in 2018."

Linking to an article in the Washington Post urging Republicans to mute their cheers, ATF said, "Of course the GOP wants to celebrate their tax scam. It did exactly what it was intended to do: hand the wealthy, big corporations, and their rich mega-donors a massive tax giveaway!"

One of those wealthy individuals is Morris Pearl, who's chair of the board of the Patriotic Millionaires. In a recent op-ed, he wrote:

It is true that the economy (as measured by corporate profits and stock prices) is still growing well. That's great for people such as me whose income primarily comes from ownership of stock, but it does nothing to help the vast majority of Americans who actually work for a living. Most stocks are owned by rich people—the stock market doing well just doesn't greatly impact the lives of most Americans. The economic factors that actually affect their daily lives, wages, and cost of living, have not been helped by the Republican tax bill. That means wealth inequality will worsen, which is bad for everyone—eventually even investors will not make profits if most people have little disposable income after paying for necessities.

One year after its passage, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act deserves a failing grade. It may have done what Republicans in Congress intended it to do—give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy and corporations—but it hasn't done what this country needs. Working Americans deserve a tax code that works for them, not just those at the top.

"This year over a fifth (21 percent) of the tax cuts are going to the richest 1 percent, who on average are expected to get a tax cut of $50,000," Clemente also noted. "By the time the TCJA is fully implemented nine years from now, the share going to the top 1 percent will jump to an eye-popping 83 percent."

Meanwhile, 2018 was yet another year in which workers were left behind even as the economy was said to be strong:

The Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff also took the one-year anniversary to lay out some of their critique of the law. From its report:

Before Trump's tax scam, the estate tax helped to curb growing wealth inequality by taxing the wealthiest 0.2 percent of estates. Rather than providing tax relief to working families, Trump chose to double the estate tax exemption, allowing multi-millionaire families to avoid paying any estate tax on their first $22 million in wealth.

"For almost 365 days the American people have witnessed a heavier burden falling on working families, wealthy tax cheats getting away with gaming the system, and one trillion dollars' worth of stock buybacks that padded the portfolios of CEOs and foreign shareholders," said Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

With 2019 now begun and dozens of progressives taking their seat in the 116th Congress, Pearl argued, "it's time for real, progressive tax reform, not more handouts to rich people."


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