Tax Talk is Boring, But it's Important to Listen Up
Tax code, on its face, is one of the most absurdly boring topics for the human imagination to tackle. It's tedious, litigious, and borderline incomprehensible to the layman. This, of course, offers a lot of opportunity for the money-hungry entities in this country who have the power to manipulate tax related legislation to avoid too much protest from citizens. After all, if people are bored to tears by something, it becomes nearly impossible for them to remain (or even become) vigilant.
Even the most casual observer of American politics is aware of the constant back and forth on the topic of taxes. It happens like clockwork throughout every campaign and every administration. This is the most bipartisan issue in Washington. The donors call the shots on this issue with a much more collective voice than just about any other that comes up. This means that tax cuts are constantly dressed up in the drag of reform, and paraded in front of the corpse of the middle class as often as the seasons change. The concept is nothing new, but the approach this time seems wholly different.
The usual process of pushing through these kinds of laws is to slip them into the basement of a much more popular bill. If you want to get a drop in taxes for your wealthy friends, you simply put it up as a matter of health care or national security. Worst case scenario, you push the narrative of trickle-down economics (a concept that only succeeds when a hooker is paid to pee on a jon), and your done. Of course giving millions of dollars to billionaires will create jobs! I mean, it's never worked before because the money generally just sits in an already brutally swollen offshore account, but maybe this time!
But this satirist's wet dream of a GOP is far too inartful for such measures, even having Trump himself announce “Big, beautiful tax cuts,” while doing some weird butt rub similution with his hands. Seriously. But, as you read this, you have passed as much hefty legislation as Trump and his ilk. That would be precisely zero. This being the case, they've half dropped the rouse, and have announced a plan that will raise taxes by two percent on the poorest Americans, while simultaneously dropping those for corporations and their benefactors by around ten percent. It is a bill which stands alone, unguarded by the usual careful security of a law with momentum among the people. Whether this is an act of carelessness or desperation does little to temper the reality of its affects.
Alright. Enough long-winded rambling about the history of the ins and outs of the tax ream. Let's bite on some numbers.
According to The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group that combs through all of the mind-numbing and soul crushing tax proposals so that the rest of us can have a life, Trump's plan will cost a staggering $3.2 trillion dollars over the next decade. The TPC report states that 80% of that cut will benefit the top 1 percent, who will see an increase of 8.5% on their after tax income. The bottom 95% will see an increase of around 1.2% or less.
At this point you may be thinking “Well, that's still an increase in everyone's income. This must be that winning that we heard so much about during the campaign!” But wait! There's more! Or less, I suppose.
The cited TPC report goes into a great deal more detail than I have the time or patience for, but it basically says that by 2027, that same top 1 percent will see an additional increase of .02% on their take home, totaling 8.7%. Meanwhile, about 25% of the rest of the country will see their taxes go up.
Even without the report, a combination of history and common sense would leave most people understanding that someone has to pay for these massive cuts. The government doesn't suddenly stop wanting its money just because its donors are now taken care of. There are still roads to build, firetrucks to maintain, and military contractors to finance. This being the case, the burden tends to shift to those of us without lobbyists as our regular acquaintances.
The bottom line is that the GOP tax 'reform' initiative is just another potential for a demonstrative lesson in the perpetually failing theory of trickle-down economics. The narrative has always been that if you give billionaires a few more million dollars, they'll reach down from their gilded abodes, and create jobs for everyone. But the truth is that trickle-down economics has never restored the economy, and it insults the rest of us by reducing us to beggars at the table, just hoping we can catch a wayward scrap. It does nothing to encourage growth in new markets, or support brilliant entrepreneurs. The money that's gifted to the ultra-wealthy through tax cuts is overwhelmingly sat upon because the rich can't buy enough crap to turn around the economy for everyone else. Conversely, if you alleviate the tax burden of the middle class, they'll spend it on electronics, better food, catching up on debt, house remodels, dentist appointments, and any number of things that are laughably unaffordable to nearly anyone who makes less than six figures a year right now. It's utterly foolish to fall for the same trick over and over again, clinging desperately to the hope that the result will somehow change, so let's stop doing it.