This Tax Plan Puts Another Knife Into American Democracy

Deep down, investors know that when patriots put country ahead of self, everyone benefits.

Less than a decade ago, after years of dramatic deregulation coupled with revenue-draining tax cuts, the entire U.S. financial system effectively collapsed. It took down with it millions of American consumers, workers, small businesses, retirees and middle-class homeowners.

The country can’t afford this kind of outcome again. That’s why I want to be as straight as possible: Despite what you may believe, the Republican tax plan taking shape is a sham. It will lead to more pain and less prosperity for the vast majority of Americans.

.. Stopping it will be good for investors’ bank accounts, because when Main Street and the rest of the nation does well, so does the financial sector. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, but trickle-up does. Trying to re-enact Reaganomics under completely different circumstances may well lead the economy back into a recession—one that the country will be ill-equipped to weather after the GOP proposal adds $1 trillion to the national debt.

.. The plan’s massive tax cuts won’t reinvigorate the economy. For years corporations have enjoyed historically high profits, but investment hasn’t increased alongside them. Last month at a meeting of The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, an editor asked attendees whether they would boost investment if the tax bill passed. Few hands went up.

..  Sixty-two percent of the benefits from the Senate bill’s tax cuts flow to the top 1% of earners

.. Honest analyses indicate that the Republican proposal overwhelmingly helps the wealthy and is probably a net negative for almost everyone else. That’s largely because it will be paid for with money taken out of the pockets of working Americans and their children: The tax cuts will be used as an excuse to further gut investments in education, health care and training. Slashing these services for working Americans will stunt the country’s future prosperity and weaken the overall economy.

..  the American people will not be fooled by the noise. If they see a bill passed that hands out filet mignon to the wealthy while leaving them struggling over scraps, they will be furious. Once again, they’ll realize that the system serves the needs of those at the top and ignores working families. They’ll consider this more evidence of corruption. And it will be harder than ever to argue otherwise.

.. Passing this tax plan, which adds to workers’ pain, would put another knife into American democracy. It would be a true disaster.

.. When 1 in 3 Americans say they are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, is it

  • worth saving the Trump family $1 billion by repealing the estate tax?
  • Worth increasing insurance premiums for middle-class families in the individual market by $2,000, as the Center for American Progress estimates the Senate bill would?
  • Worth taxing tuition waivers, making it prohibitively expensive for young people to get advanced degrees and thus sacrificing America’s economic competitiveness down the road?
  • Worth cutting Medicare by $25 billion?
  • Worth ending tax credits for clean energy, sabotaging one of the most promising industries for the 21st century, while protecting much larger tax breaks for oil and gas?

Myths of the 1 Percent: What Puts People at the Top

Almost all of the growth in top American earners has come from just three economic sectors:

  1. professional services,
  2. finance and insurance, and
  3. health care,

groups that tend to benefit from regulatory barriers that shelter them from competition.

The groups that have contributed the most people to the 1 percent since 1980 are:

  • physicians;
  • executives,
  • managers,
  • sales supervisors, and
  • analysts working in the financial sectors; and
  • professional and legal service industry executives,
  • managers,
  • lawyers,
  • consultants and
  • sales representatives.

.. The United States also stands out in terms of how much money its elite professionals earn relative to the median worker. Workers at the 90th percentile of the income distribution for professionals make 3.5 times the earnings of the typical (median) worker in all occupations in the United States. Only Mexico and Israel, which have very high inequality, compensate professionals so disproportionately.

.. Problems cited by these analysts include subsidies for the financial sector’s risk-taking; overprotection of software and pharmaceutical patents; the escalation of land-use controls that drive up rents in desirable metropolitan areas; favoritism toward market incumbents via state occupational licensing regulations (for example, associations representing lawyers, doctors and dentists that block efforts allowing paraprofessionals to provide routine services at a lower price without their supervision).

Steve Mnuchin: We’re not cutting taxes for rich people. Bernie Sanders: Yes, you are.

The richest 1 percent — households making at least $732,800 — would get an average tax cut of $129,030, the analysis finds. For the typical one-percenter (who earns much more than $732,800), that means 8.5 percent more income after taxes. The richest 0.1 percent, earning at least $3.4 million a year, would get $722,510 back on average, for a 10.2 percent average boost in after-tax income.

By contrast, the middle class (households earning $48,600 to $86,100 a year) would get $660 back, a 1.2 percent income boost. The poorest fifth of Americans, earning $25,000 or less, would only get $60, a 0.5 percent increase.

.. But the next guest on the “This Week” was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who delivered a stinging rebuttal:

Everything he [Mnuchin] said is dead wrong … They are repealing the Estate Tax. The Estate tax only applies to the top two tenths of one percent — millionaires and billionaires, like the Walton family of Wal Mart, like the Koch Brothers, like the Trump family. $269 billion in tax breaks for the top two tenths of one percent over the next ten years. And this is not a tax break for the rich? Well, I don’t know what a tax break for the rich is.

The Trump Fog Machine

The Trump Fog Machine erased all his Tweets supporting the other guy in Alabama. No need for that. We do it for him, by following the fresh distractions. Trump is not Teflon. Things do stick to him. But he survives by saying or doing something so outrageous, so regularly, that we forget the last atrocity, and turn on one another.

.. So, this week his cabinet official charged with taking away health care from the poor and cutting the budget for cancer research is using our money to fly private planes at his pleasure. The multimillionaire treasury secretary wanted the same perk for his honeymoon.

.. He’s already tweeted the word “loser” 234 times, “incompetent” 92 times and “pathetic” 72 times. Call them projection tweets, showing the man for what he truly is.

..  He’s already lied about whether his tax plan will benefit the rich and his own family. It will, by eliminating the estate tax, and ensuring that the top 1 percent will get nearly 50 percent of the windfall.