When Congress reconvenes, Republicans are going to try, again, to pass their American Health Care Act. This Republican healthcare redux, which slashes Obamacare benefits, will free up billions and billions of dollars—money that will eventually find its way into the pockets of rich people when tax reform is tackled, soon after.
The changes to the tax code proposed by Republicans include: lowering the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent (for those earning above $500,000) to 33 percent; lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent; and eliminating the estate tax.
The American tax code was not designed to favor hard-working people such as construction workers, teachers, cops, nurses and garbage collectors. Making it worse, it will now be rewritten by Republican members of Congress who have, on average, a net worth of almost $2 million and spend more than half of every working day either ponying up to ultra-conservative political action committees (funded by multi-billionaires) for campaign money, or begging their wealthy patrons for contributions.
The vast majority of Americans are salaried and earn, on average, less than $50,000 a year. They have little opportunity to benefit from the tax code unless they own a home, have extraordinary medical bills, or donate a large sum to charity. The successful business owner, even now, has a considerable number of deductions, loopholes and advantages already in place.
In addition, the wealthy already profit greatly from non-salary income—interest and dividends—which is taxed at a much lower rate. Only a small portion of their annual income comes from working at an actual salaried job. Not only do they get the chance to keep a significantly larger portion of their yearly income, but people who own a great deal of stock don’t have to pay taxes on it if it increases in value—as long as they die before selling it. With the elimination of the estate tax, heirs who inherit over $5.45 million will no longer be taxed.
In this age of “Trumpian populism,” it’s puzzling that the Republican agenda will result in diminishing an American’s right to decent healthcare, while significantly reducing the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans.
Last Saturday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets all across this country, to press President Trump into releasing his tax returns and to dispute his claim that the public does not care about seeing them.
Organized by a loose coalition of labor and progressive organizations, with various economic agendas, these demonstrations focused on Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax-paying history—something all former presidents have done since the 1960s.
Considering that tax reform will soon be on the table, critics are raising questions about what Trump’s tax returns say about his net worth and about his various business ties. In addition, ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia underscore the need for full disclosure. If we, the people, never get to see his tax returns, we’ll never be completely sure who, exactly, Trump is working for. Will Trump and his family profit from the proposed code changes? Will his cabinet secretaries, advisors, and/or billionaire cronies benefit? Is Trump in bed with some foreign power?
A Quinnipiac University poll released in early April pointed out that more than two-thirds of the American public want to see Trump’s tax returns.
Sean Spicer, the bumbling White House spokesperson, says that Trump can’t release his tax returns because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. But, since the days of Richard Nixon, the tax returns of candidates, presidents and vice presidents have been audited and disclosed.
Given the president’s vast business holdings, and the potential conflicts of interest they present, Trump has an obligation to make his returns public before he pushes to rewrite the tax code. How else can we determine whether his decisions are ethical? Isn’t he the guy who promised transparency—to “drain the swamp?”
Trump is quick to twitter that nobody cares about his tax returns. Really? I guess he’s not counting the thousands of people who marched in all 50 states demanding that he make his returns public.
This issue is more profound than just his refusal. Trump is being assisted in this cover-up by a Republican Congress that overwhelmingly voted to block a Democratic attempt to obtain the returns.
Trump famously said during the campaign: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”
Trump is a proven liar and a chiseler. Yet, he acts as if he’s invincible and the Republican Party protects him. Why?