Tax plan will make rich richer, hurt rest

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

A poll conducted the week before the United States Senate passed its own version of the Republican-crafted tax bill showed that the vast majority — almost two-thirds — of Americans believed the very wealthy, not the middle class, as we had been promised, would benefit from the GOP tax reform.

Republican senators didn’t care. They pushed the bill through before anyone had even had a chance to read the actual bill, much less notes scrawled in the margins.

Washington leaders showed how far apart the two parties were on the historic tax reform bill, which is poised to give permanent tax cuts to major corporations and reduce federal revenues by $1.5 trillion.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler voted with 226 of her GOP colleagues in the House in favor of Trump’s tax plan, saying she wasn’t worried about the bill’s plan to eliminate state and local tax (SALT) deductions — something Democrats, including Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have warned will negatively impact 1.3 million Washington residents.

“I proudly voted today to help middle-income Southwest Washington families keep almost $2,000 more of their money instead of paying it in taxes, and to boost their paychecks by $2,672 each year,” Herrera Beutler announced on Nov. 16, after the House passed the bill.

Nearly two months before, Sen. Murray, a Democrat, called Trump’s tax plan “another example of (Republicans’) broken promise to put working families first,” and said Trump was trying to trick the working class into believing that they would benefit from the bill because the money would “trickle down.”

So, who’s right? Will the tax plan benefit the working class families who populate Clark County, as Herrera Beutler suggested, or will it go to the nation’s wealthiest and harm the middle class?

On Nov. 26, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviewed the Senate’s version of the tax bill and discovered that most “regular” Americans would be worse off a few years after the sweeping tax code changes took effect: with those earning less than $30,000 worse off by 2019; $40,000 or less earners losing out by 2021; and people earning less than $75,000 worse off by 2027.

The CBO found that millionaires and billionaires, as well as many who earn between $100,000 and $500,000 a year, would benefit from the tax scheme.

About one-third of Clark County households earn $100,000 a year or more. This means that two-thirds of Clark County’s households are likely to lose out in the GOP’s tax bill.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, higher tax rates at the top do not equal more jobs. In fact, they equal the exact opposite, with job growth higher during the years when the top earners and corporations had higher tax rates. When Ronald Reagan took office, our country’s top earners were taxed at 70 percent. This new plan would tax them at 20 percent. The top 1 percent in the U.S. already owns as much as 90 percent of Americans. The GOP’s tax bill will give them even more.

And if you’re still hoping for a trickle-down effect, keep this in mind: Charles and David Koch, the brothers who own the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Camas, are two of the biggest beneficiaries of the proposed tax cuts. They own Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, and regularly tie for the world’s fifth or sixth richest person.

And yet … since buying Georgia-Pacific for $13.2 billion in 2005, the Kochs have eliminated thousands of mill jobs across the country. In 2015, the mayor of Parchment, Michigan, a town known as “Paper City,” told reporters he was blindsided by the Kochs’ decision to shutter that town’s long-standing paper mill.

“I didn’t see this coming at all,” Rob Heasley told the press, after the announcement came in that the mill was closing. “We’ve been assured repeatedly by the plant staff that … the place was very profitable.”

The people of Camas may know how he feels right now. As many as 300 workers will lose their jobs at the local Koch Industries-owned paper mill next spring.

The saddest part is that Republican leaders keep pumping the trickle-down myth even when the truth is staring us all in the face. They are poised to pass sweeping tax changes that will negatively affect the middle class, make higher education unaffordable to all but the wealthiest and could someday destroy programs like Social Security and Medicare.

The rich who fought for this tax bill won’t care. They already have all the money. They can afford to pay for the best doctors and send their children to the best schools and retire to the best islands and shelter their billions of dollars offshore. The rest of us, the workers of this country who regularly put in 40-plus hours a week and dutifully pay our taxes, will be the ones who suffer.