“Whether or not you agree with fighting class warfare on behalf of workers, the billionaires declared class warfare on everyone,” says Michael Kink of the Republican tax bill. Earlier tax-cut plans might have offered a little bit to working people in order to pass big cuts for the wealthy, but the Trump-Ryan-McConnell plan on the move in Congress right now gives tax breaks to billionaire heirs and heiresses and pays for it by slashing healthcare for the elderly, poor, and disabled; ending deductions for graduate students, teachers, and the self-employed, and essentially raising taxes on people making between $10,000 and $75,000 a year–which is the vast majority of the population. Luckily, it’s also deeply unpopular, and the coalition that grew out of the healthcare fights is mobilizing again for one last battle to halt the GOP agenda before the holidays.
One, at even the most moderate level, if you look at public opinion polls, things that pollsters already ask people about, most Americans want the wealthy to pay their fair share. Most Americans want to see higher taxes on rich people, not lower taxes on rich people. Most Americans would like to see a lot of loopholes eliminated, particularly the loopholes for outsourcing jobs. Most Americans would like to see a tax system that doesn’t overly reward people that are already wealthy, that doesn’t over-reward people that just invest for a living, that does something to help families that are struggling. We don’t have any legislation that does that.
More aggressively, what is the single payer of economic policy or fiscal policy? I would argue that if most people want to see the wealthy pay their fair share and most people want to see government budgets that actually invest in and create jobs by hiring people and giving them paychecks as opposed to just sprinkling helicopter-loads full of cash on rich zip codes, we could talk about fiscal policies that actually redistribute income and invest in the future. We can talk about public goods. We can talk about the opportunity to close loopholes, make the wealthy pay their fair share and invest in an economy that would actually employ a lot more people then we have now. We could make the transition into a clean energy infrastructure. We can move forward with single payer healthcare and staff that out in a way that responds to our opioid addiction crisis, that responds to the aging of America, that provides more independent living options for seniors and for people with disabilities.
There are a lot of things we could do that would create a lot of good, meaningful jobs for Americans with decent paychecks and we have the money to do it. The Republicans are saying they would be willing to spend a $1.5 trillion on something. If we were going to spend $1.5 trillion on clean energy and public health and education and higher education, a lot of people would be in favor of that. The tax system is a way that can provide the resources to do it. You could be scared of the phrase “redistribution of income,” but when pollsters ask questions about “Make the wealthy pay their fair share and invest in programs that create jobs and pay off for the public in the future,” that is what they are talking about. When we have young people supporting socialism over capitalism by significant margins because they have been screwed so badly by the economy, then I think it is incumbent on politicians to provide more effective public policies that were previously extended.
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