Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate were hoping to quietly go about the business of their brand of tax reform, cutting rates for corporations and the wealthy while raising the federal deficit they used to scream about and raising some taxes on the middle class. The less attention paid to reform, the better, of course, because the key to it is to try to fool most people in the middle into thinking it’s some kind of benefit for them when in fact it’s a bow to the biggest GOP donors, who have been pounding the table to get their “due.”
Once done, the GOP candidates next year could boast of cutting everyone’s taxes – whether they did or not – and they also could get President Trump off their backs so he doesn’t turn on them for not giving him one single legislative accomplishment in the first quarter of his term.
Too bad. For now Trump’s wading in, making a splash and threatening to get all the Republicans wet in the process. The president, who hasn’t a clue what the tax code says or what the details of this or any other legislative proposals are, wants more cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And he’s said in a tweet (how else?) that while they’re at it, Republicans also should repeal the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that penalizes people who don’t get health insurance. It’s a crucial part of sustaining the ACA, which is why Trump hates it even as 22 million Americans rely on insurance they got thanks to the ACA. That suggestion is a continuation of Trump’s grudge against his predecessor, who left office with approval ratings Trump is likely to never achieve.
Trump’s interference isn’t going to be helpful to GOP tax changes, and in that sense, it’s welcome. The more discussion there is about this so-called “reform,” the more likely it is that Americans in the great middle class will realize Republicans are all about helping the rich donors. A nonpartisan congressional analysis of the plan, after all, found that taxes would increase for nearly 14 million households by 2019. That number would grow by another third by 2025.
In other words, “reform” is a partisan sham. Under the GOP plan, for instance, deductions for state and local income taxes and sales taxes would be eliminated. Those are important to average middle class taxpayers. And the Senate proposal would eliminate the deductions for property taxes, while the House would allow deductions up to $10,000. Again, these things are important to those who need tax breaks the most, since they don’t have the options of high-priced tax lawyers and various investment maneuvers available to the wealthy.
But now, here comes the president, born to great wealth and oblivious to the day-to-day financial worries of the average Americans he claims to represent. Fortunately for those Americans, Trump’s influence in Congress at this point is virtually non-existent – but his bombastic outbursts are guaranteed to draw attention to a tax plan that insults the intelligence of the American people.