Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
An entire year of legislative defeats has grated on the GOP.
Their promised Affordable Care Act repeal failed – again and again and again. Their Muslim ban was, well, banned by the courts. And now, in the waning days of November, their infrastructure bill, big beautiful border wall and brand new NAFTA are all missing.
Republicans have lost so much, they’re downright desperate for a win. And that’s why they’re pushing a tax scam supported by a mere 25 percent of Americans, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.
They’ve just got to rack up a win, consequences and American workers be damned. They’re so desperate that GOP Sen. Bob Corker, a self-described deficit hawk, agreed in committee Tuesday to send the bill to the floor for a vote after he got promises for changes. What he wants is cancellation of the bill’s tax breaks if they don’t stimulate economic expansion as Republicans say they will. The GOP keeps swearing the cuts will cause growth despite the fact that the Bush tax breaks didn’t and despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the cuts will add $1.44 trillion to the deficit.
Some deficit hawk. But, hey, anything for a win.
Republicans are so desperate that they’re shoving this scam through what is supposed to be a deliberative process without any of that deliberation – without, for example, routine hearings or assessment by the Treasury Department or Joint Committee on Taxation. So there’s no bipartisan government evaluation of the GOP assertion that the tax breaks will generate economic growth sufficient to account for the massive revenue losses they’ll cause.
Americans hate this scam for good reason. And they do hate it. The latest Harvard-Harris survey showed 54 percent oppose it and the same percent say the scam is likely to hurt them financially. They know a swindle when they see one.
But Republicans feel like they’ve got to have a win. No matter what. Poor people, working people, old people be damned.
And damned they are by the GOP scam.
The GOP bill delivers massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The House version, for example, eliminates the estate tax. This is charged only on estates worth $5.49 million or more. So only the richest of the rich, the top 0.2 percent pay. And among the tiny number nationwide that owe estate tax in 2017, the average effective rate paid is less than 17 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. That’s because the rich employ experts to exploit loopholes so they never pay the official rate of 40 percent.
In addition to generating essential funds for the federal government for more than a century, this tax prevents America from reverting into a kingdom dominated by royal dynasties whose pampered scions thrive by the merit of their grandfathers rather than by the sweat of their brows. This was the system Americans fought a revolution to escape.
But Republicans are voting to bring it back. Anything for a win.
Their scam also bestows on corporations the privilege of paying zero U.S. taxes on the profits of their foreign factories. So instead of the current 35 percent, or the new, low 20 percent rate that Republicans plan to award companies in their tax scam, corporations will pay nothing at all if they move manufacturing from Iowa to India or from Idaho to Mexico.
This will kill American manufacturing and American jobs. Factories will flee even faster to low-wage, high-pollution countries like China where Republicans will absolve them from paying any U.S. income taxes at all! Those Michigan and Ohio auto parts factories – gone. Those Pennsylvania and Illinois steel mills – gone. Those family-supporting jobs – shipped overseas by Republican tax policy.
Republicans are appeasing fat-cat CEOs and shareholders to get themselves a win on taxes. Family-supporting jobs be damned.
The fattest of those cats, the richest 1 percent, rake in 62 percent of the benefits of this tax con by 2027. Many in the middle class will get tax cuts in the first few years too, but by 2027, their rates rise back up. At that time, this GOP tax fraud would stick 87 million families making less than $200,000 a year with tax increases.
But by then, by 2027, many of those Republicans will have left Congress to become overpaid lobbyists – the kind now demanding income redistribution from the pockets of the poor and middle class up and into the treasure chests of the wealthiest. The tax scam seems like a win for Republicans now, and secure job offers from lobby firms later.
The CBO has estimated that those tax breaks in the Senate GOP bill will dig a $1.44 trillion deficit over 10 years. This hole will be dredged by the party that spent 8 years while President Barack Obama was in office decrying anything that would increase the deficit by a penny. But policy consistency be damned. Anything for a win.
To keep the deficit “down” to $1.4 trillion, Republicans slash and burn programs vital to workers and the elderly like Medicare and the tax credit for student loans. Democrats have estimated the tax scam will slash $470 billion from Medicare over 10 years. The CBO has estimated those cuts will start next year with $25 billion.
Worse though, is the real potential for Republicans to contend by year five or six, as their tax cuts for the rich and corporations gin up government debt, that programs workers cherish like Social Security and Medicaid must be gutted as well.
So what looks like a Republican win in 2017 could be a tragic loss to American workers by 2027.
Ok. The American people get it. Republicans have had a rough year. They are aching for a win. But doing the wrong thing just to do something is not a win. It’s a scam perpetrated on American workers.
Leo W. Gerard is president of the United Steelworkers union. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. Follow him on Twitter @USWBlogger.