Richardt Stormsgaard: On the GOP’s great tax scam
Terry McLaughlin’s recent two op-eds about the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” picked out isolated bits thrown to taxpayers (Jan. 18) and to employees of large companies (Feb. 1) to mask the massive wealth transfer from poor to rich, and reiterated the myth that if the wealthiest receive further tax cuts somehow, miraculously, it will result in a better economy for all.
This tax scam by Republicans will raise the deficit by another $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. The deficit for 2017 was $666 billion. So by almost tripling the current deficit over the next decade, it will give conservatives more powerful reasons to dissolve Social Security and Medicare because of the ballooning federal deficit.
Economic growth because of tax cuts for the very wealthy is a myth that has been proved again and again to be a lie. Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts largely benefiting the very wealthy immediately led to quickly growing national debt and failed badly at leading to higher wages, better opportunities for average Americans, or more tax revenue for the country at large. It is simply a fact that our middle class has shrunk and the number of poor have grown greatly during the last several decades as corporations and the very wealthy through huge tax cuts and increasing corporate welfare have gotten much richer at the expense of the rest of society.
Prominent Republicans have openly admitted their long-range plans with this tax scam. Paul Ryan claimed “It is the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt; that is really where the problem lies”.
“The nation’s debt is its biggest problem, and the only way to fix it is to make changes in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare,” Mitch McConnell said.
Marco Rubio chimed in: “We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare.”
The fact is that the Social Security tax funds have very little to do with the national debt. These programs are self-funding, and indeed provide a huge cash reserve that Congress can dip into without needing to borrow high interest money for necessary payouts. In 1983, the trust funds did run very low, and the Greenspan Commission solved the problem with a slight 0.8 percent increase in the payroll tax rate to 6.2 percent. But then that was during a time when both major parties wanted to protect the interests of our senior citizens along with other vulnerable groups. This is not the case today.
In some states, primarily deep red states, almost a third of the retired population get 90 percent or more of their income from Social Security. In California, it is every fifth person. We worry about the size of our homeless population now. Imagine what it will be like with millions of seniors and other vulnerable people living under bridges or in bushes around towns in our state!
Moderate and progressive critics have primarily concentrated on the right-wing attack on our social safety net by this “tax reform,” but the other aspect of this is that many of the functions that modern societies have in place to protect consumers and citizens are under attack. The Dept. of the Interior, The Dept. of Housing, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Health, Dept. of Education, are led by Trump appointees who believe these departments should be cut back sharply or even entirely abolished, and Republican politicians will be very happy to simply let these institutions languish from lack of funding along with the critical services they provide for the American people.
Extremists on the far right, now in control of our country, have been advocating “flushing our government down the sewer”(and the American people along with it) during the last two decades.
Civil rights and voting rights for selected groups rolled back, the public social safety net eliminated, our health care, pension systems, even public infrastructure and natural resources turned over to private for-profit companies leaving a huge percentage of Americans in perpetual poverty much like during earlier times.
Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.
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