With Labor Day over, it’s time to get back to work tracking the ongoing assault on the pocketbooks and values of America’s working families by President Trump and the Republican Congress. It’s a depressing job, but helps make clear the importance of this fall’s elections.
The centerpiece of the attack is the Trump-GOP tax scam, enacted almost nine months ago. Though it was obvious from the start that the Republican plan was a pure payoff to campaign donors and big corporations, Trump and his allies in Congress tried to paint it as a boon for working people. One of the chief pushers of this spurious claim has been Rep. Peter Roskam, who last year was chair of a key House subcommittee on tax policy.
Republicans kept up the charade even after it was determined that 83% of the tax cuts would go to the nation’s wealthiest 1%
once the law is fully implemented.
: a tax rate cut down from 35% to 21%; a U.S. tax discount on accumulated offshore profits of $400 billion; and American taxes on future foreign profits that work out to about half the domestic rate.
But workers are still waiting on that $4,000.
It will be a long wait, because the money’s already been spent. Corporations have announced over $700 billion in stock buybacks since the Trump-Roskam-GOP tax scam was enacted. Buybacks juice the price of shares, building the wealth of Wall Street investors and CEOs, a lot of whose compensation comes in the form of stock.
Meanwhile, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, just 4% of American workers has seen any bonuses or raises connected to the Republican tax law—and the total payout is less than 1% of what investors got from those stock buybacks. Average wages, adjusted for inflation, have actually gone down over the past year.
But the injustice doesn’t end with the division of the tax-cut spoils. Republicans want working people to pick up the tax scam’s $2 trillion tab through brutal cuts to essential public services like healthcare, income security and education.
Trump has proposed slashing $1.3 trillion
from Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Rep. Roskam’s Republican colleagues in the House want to go further down this immoral road by cutting $2 trillion from the three programs.
Here in Illinois, that means the 4.5 million mostly elderly and low-income patients – including more than one million children – who rely on Medicare or Medicaid must bear the cost of reducing taxes for the 50,000 privileged state residents who make up the top 1%. Those One-Percenters will get an average $58,000 in tax cuts
every year to add to their average annual income of over $2.8 million.
The House Republican budget would also cut nearly a trillion dollars from food aid (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Again, the most vulnerable among us are expected to shoulder the cost of giving tax-cut handouts to the wealthy and corporations.
The House GOP also wants striving, low-income college students to help pay for rich people’s tax cuts through deep cuts to Pell Grants and student loans. Trump’s budget would eventually require cuts to elementary and high-school funding as well.
The skewed nature of the tax-cut benefits, plus the reductions in public services the tax cuts require, will combine to worsen the growing gap between rich and poor in this country. We should be trying to narrow that great destabilizing divide, not widen it as the Trump-Roskam-GOP tax-and-funding-cut program definitively does.
CEOs of big companies were last year already making over 300 times more than average workers. Cuts to upper-income tax rates, higher salaries from corporation coffers flush with tax-cut cash, and inflated stock prices from corporate buybacks will together lift these titans of industry even further above the lives and concerns of ordinary people.
Labor Day is a good time for a nap—especially for people working multiple jobs to get by. But we can’t be caught napping this fall. Trump, Roskam and their Republican friends in Congress are going to keep pushing corporate policies that further enrich the already rich, further empower the already powerful, and leave the rest behind—overlooked, overworked and overwhelmed. This fall, bringing new leadership to Congress that looks out for the interests of working people every day of the year must be Job One.