Tax system skewed to the rich, powerful

The GOP’s plan enriches the 1 percent at the expense of the middle class and safety nets

The author is executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness.

This year, we should be asking whether our tax system is fair, whether it raises the revenue we need, and whether it promotes economic growth and equality.

The answer to all three questions is, unfortunately, no. The tax code, already full of loopholes for the wealthy and corporations, was laden with even more by the new tax law. That law also will add nearly $2 trillion to the national debt, endangering services like Medicare, Medicaid and education, as well as vital new initiatives like lowering health care costs and improving roads and bridges.

Over 20 percent of the Trump-GOP tax cuts are estimated to have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans last year. And once the law is fully in effect eight years from now, the imbalance will get even worse: 83 percent of the benefits will go to 1-percenters. Big profitable corporations got a 40 percent cut in their tax rate.

Republicans assured the American people the cuts would pay for themselves. Wrong. The federal budget deficit jumped by almost $100 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year alone compared with the same period last year, before the Republican tax law went into effect.

Republicans want to make up the shortfall by cutting public services working families rely on—while, incredibly, cutting taxes for the wealthy even more. In his recently released budget, President Trump proposed slashing $1.4 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while cutting taxes by $1.1 trillion, once again mostly to the benefit of the rich.

President Trump promised workers would benefit from the corporate tax cuts, guaranteeing that working families would get a $4,000 boost in wages. According to a tally by Americans for Tax Fairness, only 4 percent of employees have seen any increase in their compensation tied to the tax cuts, and the great majority of those payouts have been one-time bonuses.

A review of our tax system yields troubling results. But we can fix that. Congress can begin by repealing the tax cuts for the rich and corporations in the recent GOP tax law. Then it can start closing all the other special loopholes inserted in our tax code over the years by the wealthy and well-connected.

Those cost us trillions of dollars in public revenue we need to fulfill solemn promises we’ve made to ourselves, like Social Security and Medicare, as well as invest in our future through bold new investments. Once those loopholes are closed, on some future Tax Day we can count ourselves proud participants in a fair share tax system.