Gam­bling with our fu­ture

Kent County News - - OPINIONS -

On Fri­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Job Acts that was ap­proved by the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Se­nate Dec. 20. Trump touts the mea­sure as the largest tax cut in his­tory, though CNN an­a­lysts put it at fifth since 1964, with Ron­ald Rea­gan be­ing the record-holder on tax cuts.

“It’s been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, I have to tell you. Hasn’t been done in 34 years, but ac­tu­ally, re­ally hasn’t been done, be­cause we broke ev­ery record. It’s the largest — I al­ways say, the most mas­sive — but it’s the largest tax cut in the his­tory of our coun­try — and re­form — but tax cut,” Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House Dec. 20, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of his re­marks posted on the White House web­site.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity leader Mitch McCon­nell of­fered his praise of Trump at the Dec. 20 event, say­ing this has been an ex­tra­or­di­nary year of ac­com­plish­ment for the pres­i­dent.

“Well, let me just say, Mr. Pres­i­dent, you made the case for the tax bill,” McCon­nell said. “You’ve ended the over­reg­u­la­tion of the Amer­i­can econ­omy. And that, cou­pled with what we did last night and what the House fin­ished this morn­ing, means Amer­ica is go­ing to start grow­ing again.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who vis­ited Chestertown in Oc­to­ber to tout the tax re­form plan, also sin­gled out Trump for pur­su­ing the ef­fort.

“Some­thing this big, some­thing this gen­er­a­tional, some­thing this pro­found could not have been done with­out ex­quis­ite presidential lead­er­ship. Mr. Pres­i­dent, thank you for get­ting us over the fin­ish line. Thank you for get­ting us where we are,” Ryan said. “The mes­sage to the fam­i­lies in Amer­ica who’ve been strug­gling, pay­check and pay­check — your tax rates are go­ing down and your pay­checks are go­ing up.”

While Trump, McCon­nell, Ryan and oth­ers hail the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as re­lief for work­ing class fam­i­lies, we see that only in the short-term, and even then, it may be iffier than most think. The taxes that are re­ally get­ting cut are for big cor­po­ra­tions, and those breaks are ex­pected to add $1.5 tril­lion to the na­tional debt in 10 years. What Repub­li­cans hope is that by cut­ting the cor­po­rate tax rate, busi­nesses will ex­pand like never be­fore, off­set­ting that rev­enue loss.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., ex­pects the tax re­forms to make wealth dis­par­i­ties even more ex­treme. In com­ments made Dec. 19 on the Se­nate floor, he said mid­dle-in­come tax­pay­ers are go­ing to be the ones “asked to foot the $1.5 tril­lion bill” that is go­ing to come due.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple un­der­stand that this tax bill will hurt mid­dle-in­come fam­i­lies. They know it will add to the deficit. This bill, which has been ad­ver­tised as a tax cut, is not good for Amer­ica. It’s not good for mid­dle-in­come fam­i­lies and it’s not good for our econ­omy,” Cardin said.

U.S. Sen Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., also op­posed the mea­sure, is­su­ing a state­ment say­ing that Repub­li­cans were sup­port­ing spe­cial in­ter­est groups and cor­po­ra­tions over their con­stituents. He said that in 2019, 11 mil­lion fam­i­lies will see their tax bills go up.

“The bot­tom line is clear: un­der this bill, mil­lions of mid­dle-class fam­i­lies are go­ing to pay more, while big cor­po­ra­tions, rich for­eign stock­hold­ers, hedge funds, and the top one per­cent will get a huge wind­fall,” Van Hollen said. “De­spite what Repub­li­cans have promised, this leg­is­la­tion will not spur eco­nomic growth — but it will cause our na­tional debt to ex­plode and leave work­ing fam­i­lies with­out a bump in their pay­checks.”

U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-Md.-1st, who joined Ryan in Oc­to­ber on the Chestertown visit, said in a state­ment that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act pre­serves de­duc­tions “that workingand mid­dle-class Amer­i­cans rely on.” He high­lighted how it is ex­pected to sim­plify the tax code and the process for fil­ing re­turns.

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will sup­port eco­nomic growth and stim­u­late job cre­ation right here in Amer­ica. Low­er­ing tax rates for small and fam­ily-owned busi­nesses and for larger em­ploy­ers will en­cour­age Amer­i­can busi­nesses to rein­vest in their own oper­a­tions, in­crease their em­ploy­ees’ pay, and make the United States more com­pet­i­tive in the global mar­ket­place,” Har­ris said.

But if the tax re­form plan does all that Repub­li­cans say it will, then why did our gover­nor, him­self a mem­ber of the GOP, an­nounce that he plans to sub­mit leg­is­la­tion to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly to “mit­i­gate po­ten­tial neg­a­tive im­pacts” of the act.

“It’s clear that some peo­ple’s taxes will go down, and some will go up,” Gov. Larry Ho­gan said in a Dec. 20 state­ment. “I am an­nounc­ing to­day that our ad­min­is­tra­tion will sub­mit leg­is­la­tion that will pro­tect our tax­pay­ers, and which will mit­i­gate neg­a­tive im­pacts of th­ese changes to state taxes. Our goal will be to leave that money in the pock­ets of hard­work­ing Mary­lan­ders.”

Our tax code is overly com­pli­cated and work­ing fam­i­lies do need tax re­lief. Much of the Repub­li­can sales pitch sounds good. But they will need to make up that $1.5 tril­lion some­how. When he vis­ited Chestertown with Ryan, Har­ris said cut­ting spend­ing alone will not re­duce the debt. The gov­ern­ment is gam­bling with our fu­ture to pro­vide tax cuts now for wealthy cor­po­ra­tions.

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