Jon Peck: The camouflage of conservative social issues
Jon Peck and Joan Keyes
Terry McLaughlin puts such a nice smile on the cynical and callous machinations of the GOP.
The Republican party has a single over-arching goal: moving as much wealth to the top as possible. The leaders of the party (not the politicians we are familiar with, but the Mercers and the Kochs, and the think-tank nerds) use the camouflage of conservative social issues to garner votes.
And Republican voters at the lower end of the economic ladder who will likely be hurt in the pocket book, continue to fall for this.
We’ll agree with Ms. McLaughlin on one point: Most of us would find $1,000 handy and helpful (OK, $700 after taxes).
But let’s flip that a bit. Based on 2017 figures, the Walt Disney Corporation will save $1.94 billion in taxes in 2018. Bonuses of $1,000 for 125,000 employees totals $1.25 million. So that is less than 1 thousandth (.000644) of Disney’s tax gain. That starts to look like crumbs to me. Oh yes, and the bonuses are tax deductible to Disney (full disclosure: we own Disney stock).
Disney will continue to want infrastructure to deliver customers to its attractions, but will now be contributing $1.94 billion less each year to pay for that infrastructure. Who will bear those costs? The public will — through fees, tolls, and other costs likely passed along as part of the government deficits of the future.
Brilliant strategy: private wealth — at public expense.
Then there is the other side of the tax cut: benefits for the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. The median household income in Grass Valley is just north of $35,000. According to the Tax Policy Center tax cuts at that income level will average a $360 annual tax savings. At the top, they estimate that taxpayers making $1 million or more will average a $69,660 annual savings. Who really needs extra income, folks at the bottom or at the top?
This big give-back will yield an estimated $1.5 trillion deficit over 10 years. And how do Republicans deal with deficits? By cutting social programs that are vital to lower-income households. Is this something you want to put a smile on, Terry?
The budget recently released deals with projected deficits as follows:
Spend $18 billion over two years to build a border wall.
Cut $554 billion from Medicare over 10 years.
Cut $250 billion from Medicaid over 10 years.
Cut $214 billion from food stamps over 10 years (do keep an eye on Rep. LaMalfa’s farm subsidies).
Cut the EPA’s budget by 34 percent.
Cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget by 14 percent, including eliminating the fund that pays for capital repairs to public housing.
Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to PBS and NPR.
Eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal help to poor Americans.
Eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which ensures that poor Americans don’t freeze to death in the winter.
Cut funding for Amtrak in half.
Eliminate ARPA-E, which does cutting-edge research on energy technology.
None of these cuts will affect those at the top, except perhaps for choking off PBS and NPR. So look hard at our community. Will our well-being improve? No.
The cuts listed above will increase burdens on communities like ours. More homelessness, more health challenges, poorer educational outcomes for young people, and so on.
Republicans who ignore these ill effects (some of whom contribute to this very forum) live in never-ending state of anger that there are poor people in this country who get to spend any amount of time experiencing any emotion more pleasant than misery. There’s a word for that, and that word is sociopath; and the sociopaths seem to be running things these days.
We live in the wealthiest society in the world and Republicans only look for ways to take more from those who have less. We need public policies that support all of our citizens instead of fleecing the most vulnerable to support the unfettered greed at the top.
Jon Peck and Joan Keyes live in Grass Valley.
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