The absolute horror of the Republican tax bill has been somewhat obscured recently by the never-ending deluge of mass shootings, rambling madness from President Trump, and sexual harassment allegations against, apparently, every fourth man on planet Earth. But the bill did pass the House, and it is nothing less than all-out class war on the 99 percent by the plutocracy holding the reins of the Republican Party. It's up next in the Senate, as early as next week.
The rest of the country should remember this assault, and repay the favor with interest.
The Republican donor class and their employees in Congress are barely even attempting to hide the fact that this tax "reform" is about transferring as much income and wealth to the ultra-rich as possible, on their direct orders. It's a huge corporate tax cut, a cut to Trump Organization-style "pass-through" companies, plus a sharp cut in the inheritance tax, which would be abolished completely in 2024. Oh, and a new tax subsidy for private jets. Why?
.@RepChrisCollins (R-NY) on tax reform: "My donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'"
— Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) November 7, 2017
The tax benefits for ultra-wealthy children in particular would be stupendous. The youngest generation of idle rich families, like the Trumps, Kochs, Waltons, and Rockefellers, would be able to inherit billions upon billions tax-free — which would also blow a huge hole in the capital gains tax, by enabling owners to just transfer appreciated assets to their children instead of selling them.
This will blow up the deficit — but much to my surprise, Republicans are attempting to offset some of the cost by jacking up taxes on the middle class.
Grad students in particular are getting absolutely gored, with a reclassification of their tuition waivers as income. The way grad students generally get through school is with a meager stipend in the $20,000-30,000 range, plus a waiver of the headline tuition. Since tuition often comes to $45,000 or so, this would more than double their taxable "income," resulting in tax increases of 300-400 percent. Students — who are barely scraping by on what they have now — are facing a total tax rate of something like half of their take-home income, and are rightfully panicking.
The mortgage interest deduction is also getting slashed for upper-middle-class homeowners, and the deduction of state and local taxes (especially punishing to blue state residents) is being reduced — and eliminated entirely in the Senate bill. What's more, under congressional rules, the deficit increase could trigger huge cuts in social insurance programs, particularly Medicare.
There are a few other provisions that will benefit some middle-class families, but most of them will expire after a few years. By 2027, according to an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation, rich people would continue to benefit, while families earning from $10,000 to $75,000 will face increased taxes.
It's honestly quite surprising to me that Republicans didn't just figure out the biggest deficit increase they could get away with, hand almost all of it to the top 1 percent, and throw a couple of pennies to everyone else to claim it's a "middle class tax cut." That was the George W. Bush political formula, and it worked quite well.
The only possible conclusion is that the plutocracy is no longer satisfied with taking almost all the income growth. They now want to diminish everyone else's share; as George Carlin once said, "they want more for themselves, and less for everybody else." The most notable victims reflect the cultural enemies that the Republican Grievance Industrial Complex has been whipping its base up in a frenzy over for decades — college students, coastal elites, and comfortable liberals — but the pain will be broadly shared. As Mike Konczal details, in broad terms it is an assault on workers to benefit capitalists: people who own things instead of working.
We now know there shall be no quarter from the ultra-rich in their quest to take as much of the national income and wealth for themselves as possible. So they should be given no quarter either.
At the earliest opportunity, a left-wing economic reform bill should deliberately destroy the power of the plutocrats: Break up their monopolist corporations, sharply increase taxation on their capital gains and dividends, levy a confiscatory tax rate on income over $1 million and a 100 percent inheritance tax on estates over $1 million, and kneecap finance with burdensome regulations. Then, strengthen the lower class: Ban "right-to-work" laws at a national level, increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation, beef up the welfare state, and spend to achieve full employment.
Some of the wealthiest and most privileged people who've ever existed are attempting to loot the pockets of penniless grad students so they can have even more money to spend on stuff like $450-million paintings. They've forfeited any right to deference or consideration.