The GOP Tax Plan: First The Dagger, Now The Scalpel, To The Middle Class

The Republicans in Congress have become modern-day Robin Hoods but in reverse.
11/15/2017 08:58 am ET Updated Nov 15, 2017
Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

First, it was the dagger to the hearts of middle-income earners, with the GOP tax plan taking away deductions, such as property taxes, mortgage interest and state and local taxes (”SALT”) that make owning a home ― the “American dream” ― affordable or more affordable (“The GOP Tax Bill Will Place A Dagger In The American Dream Of Home Ownership”). But eliminating these deductions, while immensely important, are but just in microcosm to other take-aways that will benefit the corporate class by robbing the pocketbooks of the average, individual American.

Consider, for example, that teachers will no longer be able to deduct school supplies they purchase for their classrooms and for the children they teach. Corporations will still be able to do so as ordinary and necessary business expenses. Or the SALT corporations will still be able to deduct sales taxes ― again, not the individual.

Certainly, the cap on deducting property taxes in the House bill for new purchases and existing homeowners of up to ten thousand dollars will not apply to corporations; if they have property taxes that exceed this limit, they will still be able to deduct them. How about moving expenses for the individual that is required to move because of a job relocation or the company at which that middle class person worked has closed down? Yep, you are right ― that person will no longer be able to deduct such costs as ordinary and necessary business expenses. But the corporation that relocates, let’s say to China, will still be able to deduct its moving expenses (“Some Of America’s Wealthiest Tell Congress To Raise Their Taxes, Not Cut Them” [exchange with Rep. Susan DelBene.])

According to a bipartisan analysis in the last day, the Senate’s version would hike taxes for 13.8 million Americans (“Bipartisan Analysis: Senate Bill Would Hike Taxes for 13.8 Million”).

Now comes the piece de resistance ― within the last 24 hours, the Senate including in its bill repeal of the individual mandate that is the cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or, colloquially, Obamacare), resulting in 13 million Americans ― poorer and middle class ― losing their health care insurance (“Senate Plans to End Obamacare Mandate in Revised Tax Proposal”; “Senate GOP changes tax bill to add Obamacare mandate repeal, make individual income cuts expire”). The independent Congressional Budget Office also asserts by cutting out the mandate, insurance premiums for many Americans would spike by 10 percent. The claimed rationalization for doing all this is that by eliminating the mandate, the government would spend less money, perhaps upwards of $338 billion, on subsidized health plans (Senate GOP will add Obamacare mandate repeal to tax plan”) and thus be an offset to government spending so as to allow the senate deficit to be no more than $1.5 trillion ― a figure necessary to allow senators to vote their bill under the reconciliation rules requiring nor more than a majority of them to approve it, with the VP becoming a tie breaker.

Critically important about eliminating the mandate is that without it, the young and healthy would be free to leave the ACA; without their participation, the guts of Obamacare will be torn away, because only the sick and elderly would, for the most part, remain. This is untenable for insurers who are required by the law to provide benefits like covering pre-existing conditions, having no caps on annual or lifetime expenditures, and covering offspring to age 26. So, despite what we have seen in the past week from voters in Virginia that place preserving health care they have through Obamacare as a top priority, or voters in Maine passing a referendum to increase Medicaid in their state as part of the ACA, Rs continue to have on blinders. With their efforts at failing to repeal and replace the ACA multiple times now, evidently Republican have not learned their lesson; they care more about their party and their fat cat donors than about the, literally, health and welfare of the country ― many of whom are their supporters. Whatever happened to health care as a right, like we see in other industrialized nations?

Congressional Republicans tell us that by taking away our health and our deductions, many of us will see lower taxes. Really? So some of us get a few extra “pennies” in our pocket in return for losing our health care and not being able to afford a home. This is not the trade-off we envisioned when we sent our representatives to Congress. And don’t forget the 13+ million that will see their taxes increase...

The Republicans in Congress have become modern-day Robin Hoods but in reverse ― taking from the poor and giving it to the nation’s rich and powerful corporate and influential interests. First a dagger, now a scalpel. What next to the middle class, a sledge hammer?

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