Late last night, the Senate passed the GOP tax bill along party lines, 51-48. The House, which passed it yesterday, will have to re-vote on it today because of some procedural issues, but that is merely a formality. The House will pass it, and Donald Trump will sign it. The GOP tax plan will go into effect next year.
Ostensibly, that is a loss for Democrats and a big win for Donald Trump and the Republicans. Realistically, the unpopularity of the bill will probably work against Republicans and Trump in the midterms. The GOP probably knows that. They were going to get crushed in the midterms anyway (and more Republicans will probably retire in the next few months), so they were basically cashing out.
I had a Republican source tell me quite plainly: @BobCorker and other Republicans don't care what Americans say. They are "cashing out." That's what this GOP tax bill is about.— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) December 20, 2017
The Democrats, meanwhile, are laying the dangers of this bill on thick, and for good reason. There’s a lot bad about this tax bill. A lot. But Paul Ryan is not wrong, either, when he says, “There’s just tons of confusion out there as to what this does or doesn’t do. A lot of people think it’s going to raise their taxes … the results will speak for themselves.”
And that’s what Republicans are counting on. Because here’s the deal: Most of you all are going to get tax breaks next year. You may have slightly larger paychecks. You may not have to pay as much back to the government in April 2019. That’s the case for most of the country, except for high-tax states like New York and California, but you guys weren’t going to vote for a Republican anyway, right? Paul Ryan is hoping that the extra $40 a week, or so, that middle class families will get from the tax plan will be enough to convince white suburban moms to vote GOP in November.
There’s a pretty good tax bill calculator over on the NYTimes that will estimate how the tax bill will affect you personally. For most of you, it’s going to show a net positive, and Trump and Paul Ryan are hoping that the small addition to your paychecks will be enough to quell your enthusiasm for voting them out of office.
And it’s true: For 80 percent of Americans, the tax bill — on its face — will not hurt you. And if that tax cut had been restricted to the lower and middle class, it might not have been such a terrible thing. For one, it would have only cost $250 billion, and all that money would have gone to the bottom 70 percent.
But this? This cost $1.5 trillion, and 83 percent of that money is going to the richest 1 percent in the country. Let me repeat that again: 83 percent of that money is going to the richest 1 percent in the country. Paul Ryan’s gamble is that if he throws a few bucks at the middle class, we won’t express outrage at the fact that corporations and the wealthiest people are getting tax cuts in the millions.
But here’s the other thing: The few bucks we in the middle class are getting? We’re only going to get that for a few years. After that, our taxes will go up while the corporate tax cut is permanent. In other words, corporations — which are swimming in profits — are going to get to keep even more of those profits. Meanwhile, Don and Karen in suburban Indianapolis are going to have to pay more.
But realistically, that’s not going to happen, either, and the Republican are counting on the fact that even a Democratic-controlled Congress will not roll back those tax cuts when they expire. They probably won’t, either, and best case scenario is that the Democrats will win back control of the House, Senate, and White House in 2020, and we raise corporate tax rates back up in order to pay for a permanent middle-class tax cut.
In the meantime, a lot of those middle-class tax cuts are going to be wiped out by the rise in health care premiums thanks to the Republicans’ decision to repeal the individual mandate. Healthcare premiums will go up 10 or 20 percent for everyone, and suddenly that $2,000 in taxes you are saving under the GOP tax plan will be reabsorbed by your higher premiums. Again, the net effect is roughly zero for you, the middle-class taxpayer, while millionaires and billionaires save a shitton of money.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are eventually going to have to pay for this plan because they know, and we know, and everyone knows that it will not pay for itself. How does the GOP do that? They slash entitlement programs. They raise the age to be eligible for social security. They cut Medicaid funding. Poor people are gonna get boned.
And ultimately, that’s the net effect of the GOP tax plan: The middle class will probably break somewhere in the vicinity of even. Rich people are going to be a whole lot wealthier, and poor people? They’re paying for this. They’re going to lose health care, their social safety net, and even the charitable contributions many benefit from will be significantly reduced. The deck that is stacked against poor people? It just got stacked a whole lot higher. But, for a lot of those poor people, the Republicans are hoping to hang on to their votes by continuing to rob them and then stoking their economic anxieties, and by “economic anxieties,” I mean: Racism.
In short: A tax cut for for millionaires is going to be paid for by racism.