The downside of the tax bill
There are many reasons the new tax bill is historically unpopular, and it is not because people don’t understand what is in it. It is exactly because many people DO understand what is in this bill that it is so unpopular.
Our Congress has just created a huge tax break for their corporate donors and their hope is that we will be so pleased with the small amount of money staying in our pockets over the next several years that we won’t notice or care who the big winners really are. But there is no such thing as a free lunch, and ultimately these tax cuts will have to be paid for with other tax increases and cuts to programs and services which will mainly affect low and middle-income households. Congress has already suggested they will turn to cutting programs such as Medicare and Medicaid once the tax bill is complete. And let us not forget that while Reagan cut taxes in 1981, he then raised them in 1982, 1983, and 1984. So before we get too giddy about that extra money in our pocket, let us stop to consider all the less visible ways in which the American people will be paying for those corporate kickbacks.
• National security — Many people, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary James Mattis, have listed our national deficit as the single greatest threat to our national security.
• Wealth inequality — The richest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the country’s wealth. Under this bill, they will own even more. This continued consolidation of money/power/influence is a threat to our democracy.
• Health care costs — The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that this bill will cause health insurance premiums to rise by about 10 percent a year.
• Inflation — The United States is currently in its eighth year of economic expansion. Adding fuel to an economy that is already accelerating will lead to higher interest rates and inflation, which will negate the benefits of a few hundred extra dollars in our pockets.
• Higher taxes —According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, every income group below $75,000 will actually see a tax increase by 2027. This is because the new bill changes the way inflation is calculated, a change that does not expire in 2027.
So I wish I could rejoice in getting a larger paycheck this year. But while I will gladly spend that extra $83 per month, I do not think this tax bill is in the best interest of our country. And it is clear that many other independent, Democratic, and Republican voters feel the same. Our lawmakers need to meet their responsibility to pass legislation that will actually improve the lives of the Americans they are supposed to represent, rather than just the corporations that fund their campaigns.
Jamie Ratliff is a Baker City resident.