The only appropriate way to open this week's article is to quote my dream mans Hasan Piker:
"It's tax season, baby! Woo!! Deep cuts, thicc cuts. Yeah! We're going into a recession! MAGA! Sorry, I just love imagining the idea that giving corporations, who already are experiencing record high profits, more tax cuts with the hopes that it'll somehow magically eliminate labor exploitation and reduce income inequality."
On that note, let's talk the Republican tax plan. The tax code is, by definition, boring. With phrases like "corporate inversion" and "zero-based budgeting" and "quantitative easing" (made famous by Jill Stein claiming it was a magic trick that you didn't need to understand, it's just a magic trick, featured in conjunction with John Oliver's coverage on third parties), the tax code is inherently boring. But we can't let that stop us from being informed of the tax code, not just how it pertains to us, but also in the broader scope of the economy.
Riveting, I know.
But tax codes themselves play a big role in how the party line is toed. All candidates have a stance on taxes - who should be taxed, what is tax deductible, etc. Trump is no exception, though his Republican Party's version of the tax code is particularly horrifying.
The main goal of the House's version of the plan, a 440-page piece of legislative garbage (my opinion, admittedly) was to lower taxes on companies, all in an effort to make them more competitive and discourage them from leaving the country. This has always been a Republican idea, and was one of the main pillars of Trump's "campaign", for lack of a better term. In practice, the new tax bill reduces corporate tax from 35 to 20 percent.
You're probably thinking, "Who gives a shit?"
Wait. It's important.
The other important (and major) provisions of this bill are that it keeps the individual mandate from Obamacare, but this is only in the Senate version, meaning it might end up NOT appearing when the House and Senate have to make their bills match. This could an issue. A big issue. A "You guys didn't want our healthcare plan? Here, we're just going to fuck you over" big issue.
The big piece though is this: Big business is getting a huge win from this plan, and small businesses are getting, well, a marginally better deal than in the past. Slashing the corporate tax from 35 to 20 percent is the largest single cut in history, that has no expiration date. On top of that big change, companies will also be getting new tax breaks to help lower their bills, and the entire business tax system (how money is taxed as it moves behind the scenes, essentially) will be changed from a worldwide model to a territorial model. Starting to see why this matters? Just wait.
If big business does well, so do rich people. The top 1% will see benefits from changes in the estate tax (which will go away entirely in 2024), being able to keep charitable deductions, and the alternative minimum tax goes away, which is to safeguard against excessive tax dodging. You know who this benefits in particular? Donald Trump.
Donald Trump promised that he would lower taxes for the middle class. And it is clear he doesn't do it. Most Americans will pay the same (possibly lower) taxes until 2023 when a key tax break for the middle class expires: the Family Flexibility Credit. They are claiming taxes will get simpler as they consolidate tax brackets and eliminate individual deductions. Oh yeah, you read that right, individual deductions are going away except for three: charitable donations, property taxes greater than $10,000 annually, and mortgage interest deduction. The one that has most people up in arms it the loss of tax breaks associated with going to college, because it's going to be expensive. The Washington Post summarized it best:
"At the moment, low and middle-income Americans can deduct up to $2,500 a year in student loan interest. That benefit would go away in 2018. In addition, grad students who get tuition waivers because they teach or do research would now have to pay income tax on the waiver, a big change. "
The price tag for this bill is $1.4 trillion dollars, and that goes straight to the deficit. And while economists say that it will create growth, it's not nearly enough to cover the costs.
There's a lot of reasons to be upset about this plan: it's a badly defended savior bill of our economy, that the deficit issue is only like, the fifth worst thing about it, or that it's even a mixed bag for corporate America.
What I'm upset about, though? The Republicans, who bitched and bitched about the "deficit inflating" Obamacare are now claiming that their own plan will pay for itself, when the reality is by ALL models (frankly, including their own) that the actual pricetag is $1.4 trillion. Trillion. With a T.
What upsets me about this is that when its $1.4 trillion in the pockets of themselves, their friends, and in the end, their children when the estate tax does not apply to their own wealth, they are willing to balloon the debt out of the water because it benefits THEM. But when it's $1.4 trillion to make sure people can survive curable diseases and not go bankrupt from it, like Obamacare, all of a sudden the deficit is all that matters, and if we make the deficit any deeper, we will go into another financial crisis.
I wasn't (as) fired about this until I read Vox's article this week entitled, "Orrin Hatch just made the Republican agenda startlingly clear". This quote is what lit the fire in me to even give a shit about tax code:
"'I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything,” he [Orrin Hatch] said. “Unfortunately, the liberal philosophy has created millions of people that way, who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend on the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.'"
So, basically, here's the point. The Republicans are willing to spend $1.4 trillion that goes immediately put into their pockets, but not willing to spend $1.4 trillion on their constituents who are not as well off as them. The CHIP program (Children's Insurance Program) has been the center of this debate. It would cost less than 1% of the proposed $1.4 trillion tax bill to keep this program running next year. Less. Than. 1%. And its existence is in jeopardy. The Republicans can't even give a shit about children anymore, how do you think they feel about the rest of us?