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Reverse Robin Hood Tax Proposals

Reverse Robin Hood Tax Proposals           Gerry O'Shea  11-2017

Jonathan Swift, the renowned 18th century dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin,  penned a great satirical essay titled A Modest Proposal.

Looking at the abject poverty and destitution of so many families throughout Ireland, Swift in this mocking "proposal" devised an imaginative method of dealing  with the high infant mortality rate and attendant poverty in Ireland. He wrote that if the poor babies were fed well for a year and then slaughtered for their tender young meat, the rich people, the landlords and their affluent cronies, could enjoy the best of fare while the children's parents would also benefit from the payments that would accrue to them from the sale of the succulent human carcasses.

I thought of Swift's indignantly ironic essay when I heard the details of the Republican tax proposals which are being sold as middle-class tax cuts. Both the House and Senate bills have the assured benediction and support of President Trump who preached every week during the election campaign that his tax proposals would focus on helping the beleaguered middle class.

 Replying to a question as to how his tax plan might benefit himself, Mr. trump assured everyone that in his proposal he and his rich friends would end up paying more to the government.

In fact, workers earning less than $75,000 a year will pay more in taxes within a few years. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that by 2027 close to 80% of the gains of the Republican proposals  will go to the top 1% and just 12% to the middle 60% and more than a quarter of middle-class  families will  actually see their taxes go up.

The Estate Tax, which only applies  to estates valued over five and a half million dollars and impacts only about 5000 American families every year, will be ended completely under current Republican proposals.  They very cleverly call this estate charge a "death tax" and  suggest that only far out lefties would favor such a thing.

Again the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was introduced to ensure that millionaires  employing teams of accountants to minimize their tax liability would at least have to make some contribution to the IRS, is also dropped because it is deemed an unfair imposition on the rich.

Experts estimate that the elimination of these two taxes will mean a gain of close to one billion dollars for the Trump family. This is how the swamp is being drained.

The Senate Finance Bill also eliminates the Individual Mandate in Obamacare which requires that all citizens must carry a minimum level of health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that eliminating  this insurance mandate will result in removing  from coverage over thirteen million poor and middle-income tax payers.

Before the vote in the Senate Finance Committee the chairman, Orrin Hatch, got very annoyed when his Democratic colleague Sherrod Brown asked why the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which serves more than nine million American kids, was not included in his proposal. Hatch professed extreme anger that Brown and other Democrats were disgustingly parading  their phony concerns for middle class and poor families while proclaiming his own family origins among those at the bottom of the economic ladder - as if that was the issue.

 In a final emotional explosion he referred to Democratic  objections to his tax bill as "bull crap." After that piece of showmanship and evasion Hatch did not have the courage to say that CHIP is dead and the money saved  is being directed to relieve  the financial pressures on the 1% at the top.

Republican leaders like Paul Ryan claim that the huge giveaway to big corporations and affluent individuals will actually benefit the ordinary taxpayer because some of the largesse flowing upwards will eventually trickle down and result in higher wages for workers whose salaries have not increased in years.

Very few serious economists believe this imaginary trickle-down stuff. In the last few years Governor Sam Brownback introduced a tax plan in Kansas that he claimed would demonstrate the powerful positive impact on businesses and individuals of the trickle-down theory. The results were disastrous and, last year, brought about a bi-partisan reversal to most of the original taxation policies.

If any version of the House or Senate bills passes, the super-rich will have a bumper Christmas. Apart from the immediate financial gains, they will also be able to write off the cost of new jets to facilitate their travel arrangements.

 By comparison, teachers will no longer be allowed to deduct the personal money they spend for classroom supplies. Nor will people paying  off student loans be able to write off the interest on these loans. Nor will tax payers with long-term chronic illnesses be allowed to claim their medical expenses. And, of course, those of us who pay union dues every month will no longer be able to claim them against our tax liability.

At least the guys purchasing jets and helicopters will be writing off the full purchase price and, no doubt, the cost of maintenance as well! Talk about a rigged system.

Contemporaries of Dean Swift spoke of him as a priest with moral clarity, and in his own epitaph he wrote of "the fierce indignation that can no longer injure the heart."We are surely at a time when moral clarity and fierce indignation are called for  from our leaders of church and state. They must show clearly that just because Republicans from the president down declare that their proposals amount to tax benefits for workers and their families, that this is not what any version of their tax package actually does.





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