President Trump finally released the broad outline of a tax "reform" plan, and it's an even bigger turd sandwich than we thought. We knew it would repeal the Estate Tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax, we knew it would slash corporate taxes, we knew it would deliver a massive income tax cut for rich folks and a piddling tax cut for working families, and we even knew it would raise taxes on certain middle class families in collapsing seven tax brackets down to three. But wait, there's more! The Trump tax plan would get mortgage interest deduction reform exactly wrong -- the home mortgage interest deduction gets abused by folks who buy up craploads of buildings just so they can take the tax break, but the Trump plan would actually only offer that deduction to folks who pay more than $25,000 annually in mortgage interest, meaning working families wouldn't be able to take it anymore and slumlords still could. Any reasonable person would try to accomplish the exact opposite in a reform proposal, but not our President -- his mortgage deduction proposal is perhaps the most despicable tax policy proposal I've ever seen, and anyone who supports it would be, in a sane and moral world, too ashamed to show their face in public.
But none of this has stopped Mr. Trump from claiming that the tax cuts wouldn't benefit him, which, thankfully, seems to more and more Americans to be the offensively absurd statement it actually is -- why, even our paper of record seems to have no patience with tax cut stupidity anymore. Mr. Trump peddles the same lie that repealing the Estate Tax "helps family farms," when the next family farm he finds that was ever destroyed by the Estate Tax will be the first, and he also peddles the lie that corporations just can't compete with other countries and their lower tax rates, but corporations have soaked up nearly all of the increase in income from this economic "recovery" and buy enough corporate welfare tax breaks that they pay a much lower effective tax rate. And I'm sure his minions in the right-wing media will peddle the lie that "everyone will get $1,600." That'd be based on the Tax Policy Center's finding that the average tax break will be $1,600, but averages don't pay the mortgage, and if I get a tax break of $40 and someone else gets a tax break of $3,160, that doesn't mean $1,600 flows into my bank account.
It gets worse. The Senate Budget Committee has drafted a budget proposal that includes the tax cuts, but doesn't offset about $1.5 trillion (over the next decade) of their cost. They're imagining that the Magic Unicorn Power of Tax Cuts will goose up the economy such that they'll collect an extra $1.5 trillion in revenues, but when they don't -- no, it's not even an "if," it's a "when"! -- they'll use the resulting shortfall as an excuse to cut budgetary programs that actually help good Americans, like food stamps, like Medicare, like Medicaid, like Social Security. And of course the House is, as we speak, putting together a budget proposal that would allow them to "fast track" such program cuts. You might call this rule-by-incompetence, but assessing their competence gives them far too much credit: they mean to do us harm, because doing us harm is the way they keep their power. Their plans represent nothing more and nothing less than a massive income redistribution scheme from working families to rich folks, and civilized people cannot, and must not, suffer such evil.
So of course we should be clogging up their phone lines with our will that they must not pass the Trump tax plan, that nearly every aspect of it is evil, that supporting it is absolutely toxic and will bring them down if they're up for re-election next November. But we should also, of course, argue for the world we want. If we bring back the 91% tax bracket and close corporate tax loopholes so that corporations actually pay 35%, executives won't pay themselves outlandish sums and won't let profits sit in corporate coffers to be taxed away, so they'll spend that money hiring people to make stuff. I know that's what'll happen because that's what did happen in the middle of the last century, when we created the greatest middle class that ever walked the Earth. And if we imposed a one percent tax on all Wall Street trading (a.k.a. the "Robin Hood tax," or the "Wall Street sales tax"), we'd raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and then we could actually, for example, develop a renewable energy grid in America, one built by, among others, all the fossil fuel workers who would be displaced. We could find other tax policy items to support -- I post about them all the time here -- but let's get our Reps and Senators on the line and make our will known about this matter, right now. Good luck, and God bless.
AUTHOR'S NOTE. See also my tax "reform"-related action alert from early September, which focuses more on the corporate tax angle than today's action alert does.