The GOP Tax Plan: Whose voice does it represent?

In late November, U.S. House republicans passed their tax reform bill, and yesterday, the Senate passed their version of the bill out of committee on a party line vote.  The president and congressional republicans have said they hope that they will have a bill signed by Christmas.

My guiding principal is: “We all do better when we all do better,” and I believe that a government by and for the people helps us get there. I know I believe that health care for all, affordable higher education and a level playing field so that we all have the best possible chance to succeed.  I also know that the money for programs that help advance those goals doesn’t come out of thin air.

So we ask ourselves: What are some of the things the GOP tax bill does, what does it tell us about their priorities, and what does this bill tell us about who congressional republicans feel they represent?

What are some of the things that the GOP tax bill does?

  • Permanently cuts the corporate tax rate by 15%.
  • Eliminates the estate tax by 2024 (costing $200 billion over 10 years), giving a massive tax-break to the wealthiest 0.2%.
  • Makes it harder for immigrants to file for certain tax credits, including the ones that benefit their American- born children.
  • Raises taxes on tuition benefits and eliminates the tax deductibility of student loan interest.
  • Gives some short-term gains to some middle-class taxpayers that begin to expire in 2022 and completely expire in 2024.

The Senate version also undermines the Affordable Care Act by eliminating health insurance mandates and stopping subsidies. It doesn’t stop there. By handing over billions of dollars to the wealthiest Americans and corporations, the GOP tax bill adds $1.5 trillion to the national deficit over the next decade.

What happens when we cut taxes? We cut spending.

  • The 2018 GOP budget shows us where they plan to cut:
    • $1 trillion from Medicaid, $400 billion from Medicare over the next decade, and another $400 billion in other medical programs over the next decade.
    • $4 trillion in other non-defense spending cuts over the next decade to programs like SNAP, food assistance, housing assistance, etc.

Who does this help?  Who does this hurt?

In this tax bill, 60% of the $1.5 trillion dollars in ‘benefits’ go to corporations—this is even after offsetting the cost by eliminating the ACA subsidies.  Another huge portion of the benefits in this bill go to the richest 0.2%—those who would be impacted by repealing the estate tax.  Only 17% of businesses in the United States are owned by people of color, and—because of systemic disenfranchisement preventing the building of wealth—almost no people of color in the United States will be impacted by the changes to the estate tax.

Eliminating the deductibility of student loan interest will hit women particularly hard.  Women hold two thirds of outstanding student loan debt, and because of the gender pay gap, women have less disposable income to put into paying back their student loans more quickly so they can be charged less interest.  On top of that, black women hold the highest average total of debt after graduating from college and have an even bigger pay-gap to contend with.

Some middle- and low-income people would see their taxes go down for a few years, but starting in 2022 those benefits would start to disappear. By 2024, most lower and middle-income people would see their taxes get drastically higher while some taxes that apply only to the wealthiest people in America go away completely. Meanwhile, public health care would see massive cuts.

What does the tax bill tell us about the GOP’s priorities?

This bill is a massive, permanent tax cut for corporations and the wealthy that includes some short-term tax cuts for some middle- and lower-income people but raises taxes on them in the long run.  The permanent benefits disproportionately go to wealthy while actively hurting women, families, immigrants, college students, and people of color.  In order to pay for tax cuts that further concentrating wealth in the hands of a few, this bill makes deep cuts to health care and programs that help level the playing-field.

On top of the injury to many Americans, the timing on the sunset clauses (when some of these tax cuts expire) is designed to put people who share and vote our values—which may even include some principled republicans who believe in the public good over greed—in a difficult spot come election time.  We’ve seen this before.  When Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class expired during President Obama’s term, democrats were attacked for “raising our taxes,” and it worked.  If this bill passes, we can expect the same attacks in 2022 and 2024.

How does this line up with our values? What does this tell us about who owns our democracy?

The role of elected officials is to carry out the will of the people, but despite the fact that these massive corporate tax cuts are deeply unpopular, even among their base, —only 34% of Americans support the 15% reduction in the corporate tax rate—the GOP tax plan still does it.  If even people in their base don’t want this, then who are they representing?  Leading congressional republicans have openly admitted that they see this bill as ‘donor maintenance’, and that they fear their wealthy and corporate donors will stop contributing if they don’t pass this bill—especially after their failure to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act.  Not only have they shown us who currently runs our democracy; they’ve told.

What can we do?

I won’t stand for this, and I know you won’t either.  I’m going to call swing votes in the Senate and tell them that while I may not be from their state, I know that we all do better when we all do better, and this bill does NOT help us do better.  We don’t usually ask you to call Senators from other states, but we think this is worth it.

I’ll also be gearing up for a fight in 2018.  Three Minnesota representatives—Tom Emmer, Erik Paulsen, and Jason Lewis—voted for the tax bill in the House and for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  It’s time to vote them out.

I believe in putting my money where my mouth is.  I’m proud that some of my tax dollars go to helping working families.  I’m proud that in Minnesota my taxes go towards helping people afford care that I know I’ll need someday too.  I’m proud that my taxes go toward public education.  I want my taxes to go toward a building a better future for all of us. It’ll take some work in 2018, 2020 and beyond, but we can have a tax code we can be proud of.

Senate Swing Votes

U.S. Senator Susan M Collins (R-Maine): (202) 224-2523

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): (202) 224-6665

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona): (202) 224-2235

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona): (202) 224-4521

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee): (202) 224-3344

Don’t forget to let Minnesota Representatives who voted for this awful bill that you won’t stand for it, and they’ll be hearing from you again in 2018.

Tom Emmer: (202) 225-2331

Jason Lewis: (202) 225-2271

Erik Paulsen: (202) 225-2871

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