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The Hill

This July Fourth, Americans Should Rebel Against GOP Economic Policies

Just like in 1776, Americans are getting fed up. And with very, very good reason.

onald Trump gathers with congressional Republicans after the House of Representatives approved the American Health Care Act on May 4, 2017. (Photo: Reuters / Carlos Barria)

This Fourth of July, America’s working families should rebel against President Trump’s bait-and-switch economic policies that leave them worse off while further enriching the wealthy. The new GOP tax law mostly benefits the rich and corporations — including oil companies, health insurers and big drug firms — while the Republican economy increasingly squeezes ordinary Americans.

When the president sold his tax cuts to the public, working families were promised a $4,000 raise by their employers, but precious few have seen any boost in their paychecks. And whatever modest tax cuts they got are being more than eaten up by higher gas prices, higher health-insurance premiums and ever costlier prescription drugs.

 

Meanwhile, America’s wealthiest 1 percent watching fireworks burst over country club lawns this week can thank the GOP for an average $51,000 tax cut this year alone, according to the Tax Policy Center. And the very same oil, insurance and pharmaceutical industries that are picking the pockets of American consumers are being lavished with tens of billions of dollars of corporate tax cuts while failing to share the windfall with their employees or customers.

"The new GOP tax law mostly benefits the rich and corporations — including oil companies, health insurers and big drug firms — while the Republican economy increasingly squeezes ordinary Americans."

There’s a Bruce Springsteen song called “Held Up Without A Gun,” and as American families hit the road for the holiday this week, they’ll know what he’s talking about. They will be robbed at the pump by gas prices averaging about 55 cents a gallon higher than the day President Trump took office: $2.30 in late-January 2017 vs. $2.85 in July 2018. That works out to $8 more for each 15-gallon weekly fill-up, or about $400 a year.

Also, this summer millions of Americans are getting notices that their health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act are going up next year. In the 12 states in which insurance companies have so far filed rate increase requests, the average price of a benchmark mid-range policy for a single adult has increased 13 percent — more than $50 a month, or more than $600 a year.

And they can rightly blame the GOP: To help pay for their huge tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations, including health insurers and drug companies, they weakened a key part of the Affordable Care Act. This is expected to hike insurance premiums by 10 percent a year for the foreseeable future — or about $2,000 a year for a family. And 13 million Americans will lose their health-care coverage altogether.  

Skyrocketing drug prices are another cause of higher health-care costs. In recent years, prices for some of the most widely used prescription drugs have climbed four to eight times faster than the rate of inflation, according to an AARP study.

That $4,000 raise Trump promised that employers would give workers would certainly cover a lot of these price hikes. But just 4 percent of workers have seen any kind of pay hike tied to the corporate tax cuts, according to our analysis. Most have been one-time bonuses, not permanent wage increases, and very few are anywhere near $4,000. In fact, real wages for most workers have gone down over the last year.

Meanwhile, Big Oil’s tax savings keep rolling in. Seventeen oil and gas companies will share $25 billion of tax benefits this year alone. The nation’s four biggest oil corporations will combine for $15 billion more in tax savings over the next decade.

It’s the same for Big Pharma. Five big drug firms for which there are estimates so far will enjoy a total of over $6 billion in tax savings this year alone, according to our April 2018 report. The 10 biggest companies were handed a $76 billion U.S. tax discount on the $500 billion in profits they’ve spent years stashing offshore.

So, if corporations are not giving $4,000 raises to their workers, what are they doing with their tax savings? Most are rewarding their CEOs and wealthy shareholders through stock buybacks totaling more than $560 billion since the Republican tax law was enacted. The wealthiest 10 percent of American households own 84 percent of all corporate stock.

Perhaps the biggest blow to working families from the GOP tax law: It adds $1.9 trillion to the national debt because the tax cuts aren’t paid for. President Trump and Republicans in Congress are already using that debt increase as an excuse to propose slashes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other vital services, thereby harming workers, children and retirees.

Just like in 1776, Americans are getting fed up. Support for the Trump-GOP tax law has slumped in recent months to just over a third of voters in a Politico/Morning Consult poll. And just like in 1776, it’s time to stand up and fight back.

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Frank Clemente

Frank Clemente is executive director for Americans for Tax Fairness.

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