The Toxic Tax Bill

11/29/2017 02:00 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2017
iStock/JohnPitcher

Behind closed doors, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are wheeling and dealing on a tax bill to complement the terrible one already passed by the House of Representatives. If they succeed, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal deficit would balloon by about $1.4 trillion over 10 years, most Americans earning less than $75,000 would end up paying more in taxes, and (thanks to some gratuitous sabotage of the Affordable Care Act) upwards of 13 million fewer Americans would have health insurance over the next decade (causing premiums to rise for everyone else).

No wonder a solid majority of Americans (including a lot of Republicans) dislike or hate this bill. As for economists, virtually all of them (liberals andconservatives) are dumbfounded, since this tax disaster’s massive transfer of wealth to corporations and the very wealthy would do nothing to improve the economy and everything to worsen our nation’s growing economic inequality. It’s as if — in a desperate bid to accomplish something, anything — the Republicans in Congress, with the enthusiastically incompetent encouragement of Donald Trump, are determined to shoot not only themselves in the foot but all the rest of us, too (with the possible exception of plutocrat donors).

That’s all reason enough to stop this train before it jumps the tracks and plunges over a fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, though, irresponsible, cynical governance and harebrained economics are only the start of what’s wrong with what the Republican leadership is attempting to rush through before the deadline imposed by budget reconciliation rules. The House version of the bill would also gut incentives for renewable energy and electric cars while ignoring the tens of billions of dollars the government hands out to fossil fuel corporations (which, of course, would also see their taxes slashed).

What’s more, both versions of the bill currently create a path to open the most pristine wilderness in the United States — the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — to oil and gas drilling. I’d ask them why they didn’t toss in a few national parks at the same time but I don’t want to give them any more bad ideas. By the way, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is even more unpopular in some key Republican districts than the toxic tax bill itself.

If this actually happens, the cowards in Congress who could have stopped it but didn’t will pay a steep price electorally, but that will be cold comfort given the long-term damage this so-called overhaul of the tax code would inflict on families, the economy, the deficit, clean energy, the environment, and the Arctic. And at this point, it very much could happen.

We have to stop them, even if it means saving these knuckleheads from themselves. Let your senators know now that you oppose this tax plan, or we’ll all be paying the price for years to come.

CONVERSATIONS