It looks like America’s ruling elite has decided to give itself a huge raise and the rest of us are going to pay for it in one way or another. The U.S. Senate’s “tax reform” bill is one that is likely to affect Americans for years. Even decades. Not in a good way.
Here are 10 things we need to know about the highly partisan version of the bill that’s been pushed through the Senate.
1. President George W. Bush passed massive tax cuts and what we got was ... permanent prosperity? Oh, wait, it was the biggest crash since the Great Depression. I’m not saying the tax cuts were the main cause of the crash, although they did contribute to the financial bubbles that led to it. But it’s obvious that tax cuts don’t guarantee growth or prosperity or economic stability.
2. This is a Trojan horse. The massive transfer of wealth to those who already have it will eventually crowd out funding for things like Medicare, Medicaid, student aid, food security, housing, etc.
3. There are plenty of “starve the beast” ideologues who want that to happen. They hope a crisis will force cuts to domestic programs.
4. If that sounds paranoid, consider that President Donald Trump has promised to pursue welfare “reform” next, despite the fact that it was already drastically reformed over 20 years ago. This time around, the definition of welfare is going to be broadened to include any form of federal spending that goes to working people, seniors, kids or the poor.
5. Then there’s the whole thing about adding $1.5 trillion-plus to the deficit for no good reason.
6. Whatever cuts some middle class people will get is a sugar high. Those cuts are temporary, while cuts to corporations and the wealthy are permanent.
7. Due to the tilt of the programs towards the wealthy, people in 19 states, including West Virginia, will eventually pay more in 2027 than they do under current law.
8. Then there’s the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which will greatly increase the number of uninsured Americans and drive up costs for everyone else. Trump has also pledged to pursue the further dismantling of recent health care gains.
9. The whole thing is based on flaky economics. A University of Chicago poll of economists found that only 2 percent of those polled thought the “reform” package would boost the economy; 36 percent were uncertain, 33 percent disagreed and another 19 percent strongly disagreed. There was, however, pretty universal agreement that it would blow up the national debt.
10. Over the last few decades, the U.S. has moved dramatically away from democracy and towards oligarchy and plutocracy, defined as effective rule by a wealthy few. This is likely to seal the deal.
Given all that, golly, what could possibly go wrong?
(This item appeared in the Gazette-Mail this week. It may resemble an earlier blog post.)