By Frank Clemente
Some Christmas presents are a wonderful surprise, others a big disappointment. We try to be polite about the clunkers, figuring it’s the thought that counts. But the new Republican tax law—what President Trump has described as a “big, beautiful Christmas present” for the American people—is the worst Christmas present ever. And there’s no need to be polite, since the thought behind it stinks, too.
Imagine being promised a new doll or Xbox, only to unwrap the package on Christmas morning to find an empty box—empty, that is, except for an unpaid bill from the toy store. That’s how 92 million middle-class families will feel when, thanks to the temporary nature of individual tax cuts in the GOP law, their taxes will actually be higher than they are now.
Then imagine visiting your rich relatives and seeing their living room strewn with expensive gifts. By 2027, these members of the top 1% will be getting 83% of the tax cutsunder the Trump-GOP plan. But the gifts start arriving much sooner: as early as next year when their average tax cut will be over $50,000. Meanwhile, the bottom three-fifths of Americans will get an average tax cut of about a dollar a day.
Finally, imagine discovering that Santa can only afford his generous gifts to the rich by stealing from everyone else. That’s what the GOP tax overhaul does: it steals from the American people in the form of drastic budget cuts to vital services in order to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. Those big firms get a permanent, $1.4 trillion tax cut by lowering their tax rate from today’s 35% to just 21%.
The new tax law will force $400 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare over 10 years. It will deprive 13 million Americans of their health care altogether and jack up insurance prices by 10% or more on the individual market. Other services suffering automatic cuts include agricultural subsidies, student loans and military retirement benefits—atotal of $136 billion in cuts next year alone, with the figure increasing in future years.
On top of those automatic cuts are trillions more that Congress has already proposed, including additional cuts to Medicare, along with Medicaid, education and other fundamental public services.
What’s the thought behind this terrible Christmas present? The idea is that giving even more money to those who already have a lot—wealthy individuals and profit-laden corporations—somehow helps working families.
But common sense and recent history prove that false. Giving more money to the well-off just makes them more well-off. When you pay for it by raising taxes on working families and cutting public services they depend on, you make most people worse off.
Christmas is about more than presents, of course. It’s about love and caring. But there’s nothing loving or caring about the GOP tax overhaul. It’s a celebration of human greed over human need. And it’s only the first half of a two-part assault on the American society we’ve built up with love and care over the past century.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced that next year Republicans will focus on cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other services the American people have funded and relied on for decades to help their neighbors, their families and themselves. He’s explained that cutting these bedrock programs is “how you tackle the debt.”
This from a man who just shepherded through Congress a tax-cut bill that will increase the national debt by up to $2.2 trillion by giving tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires and multinational corporations. It would be ironic—even funny—if so many people weren’t going to suffer.
One last image from our sad Christmas day. On the way home, feeling sorry for yourself, you pass a shuttered homeless shelter and a closed soup kitchen. Signs explain they lost their government funding because of budget cuts. And then you know who’s had the worst Christmas of all thanks to the GOP tax-cut giveaway.
Frank Clemente is executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness.
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