WASHINGTON — And unto you good tidings of great joy, all ye tax preparers and accountants. For you have been given a great gift likely to double or triple your earnings next year. And we won’t even mention your clients. Ooh la la.
As for you, middle-class property owners in high-tax states, woe is unto you. You are, uh, seriously in financial hot water.
One wants to scream. Why have so Americans not paid attention to the fact that the 1 percent has taken total control of government and, through the tax legislation, a large measure of our bank accounts?
Perhaps you were distracted by the White House endorsing an Alabama pedophile for the Senate. Or Donald Trump’s creepy, unhealthy fixation on Vladimir Putin. Or Russia being thrown out of the Winter Olympics. Or Trump’s former national security adviser lying to the FBI about Russian interference in our government. Or the big question of whether Trump obstructed justice (Richard Nixon’s offense). Or Trump dumping 50 years of U.S. foreign policy to throw the Middle East into a new round of violence and turmoil. Or turning pristine public lands over to oil and gas developers. Or getting rid of consumer protection rules.
Maybe you are so disgusted you just stopped paying attention to anything in Washington.
But while Trump openly lied by insisting the tax changes will help the middle class, the legislation he and Congress came up with in the wee hours of the night, scribbling illegible notes in margins, will raise taxes over 10 years on everybody making $75,000 or less. Meanwhile, large corporations and wealthy people — remember the 1 percent? — will have their hands in the rest of our pockets forever. Yes, the wealthy get permanent cuts; everybody else’s expire. Oh yes, millions will lose health insurance.
As for Donald, he gets to partake in a last-minute $114 billion tax cut for commercial real estate moguls. His family will save $1.1 billion in estate tax cuts designed for individuals who leave their families $11 million or more.
The Senate and House conference committee, meeting in secret, is hammering out differences in the bills that passed both houses. But the very popular state and local income and property tax deductions that help the middle class live in nice houses are reduced or eliminated in both versions. You may be right that nobody needs to live in a $500,000 house, but in many big cities that buys you only two bedrooms, one bath and few amenities.
Remember the tax that was supposed to ensure that the wealthiest paid at least something? The House eliminated even that. The Senate reduced it.
There are no cliches strong enough for the effect on millions of families trying to pay a mortgage, save for retirement and college and enjoy life. It is handing over the henhouse to the foxes. It is a giant monkey wrench in family finances. It is never moving out of a starter house. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Once again it is the triumph of the rich over everybody else.
Also, the “deficit-minded” Republicans are raising the national debt by $1.4 trillion.
Most economists don’t believe in trickle-down economics this legislation espouses, the idea that the more money the rich have, the more jobs they’ll create awhile paying higher salaries. All the evidence shows that when the rich get more money, they put it in banks (corporations already have stockpiled $2 trillion) or pay stockholders higher dividends (half of Americans don’t own stocks and most new investment in U.S. stocks is from overseas) or invest it for their children.
If you think there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, make no mistake: This is Republican legislation; no Democrat voted for it. The first major tax change in 30 years does not simplify taxes. It is not fairer. It is not reform. It will trigger cuts in social safety nets such as Medicaid. It was rushed with no serious hearings on implications or cost. It is a Christmas present, in Trump’s misbegotten term, only for the rich.
When it takes effect most likely on Jan. 1, millions of Americans will either curtail spending to pay taxes or go into more debt. It isn’t prosperity that’s just around the corner. It’s probably recession.