Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Make America Crappy Again

Fareed Zakaria is not exactly Leon Trotsky, and he tells it like it is. "The Republican tax cut bill may be the worst piece of legislation in modern history." I don't say "may be," I say "most certainly is." There's more wrong with it than I can possibly tell you, but Zakaria focuses on this:

The medium- and long-term effects of the plan will be a massive drop in public investment, which will come on the heels of decades of declining spending (as a percentage of gross domestic product) on infrastructure, scientific research, skills training and core government agencies. The United States can’t coast on past investments forever, and with this legislation, we are ushering in a bleak future.
The tax bill is expected to add at least $1 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years, and some experts think the real loss to federal revenue will be much higher. 

This will mean automatic cuts in spending, at a time when public investment in the U.S. is already lowest in 60 years, as a percentage of GDP. We're talking transportation, education, scientific research, public health. And right now, according to the World Bank, the U.S. has the highest unmet infrastructure needs of any of 50 countries they surveyed. Zakaria concludes:

[D]uring the Depression, World War II and much of the Cold War, a sense of crisis and competition focused America’s attention and created a bipartisan urgency to get things done. Ironically, at a time when competition is far more fierce, when other countries have surpassed the United States in many of these areas, America has fallen into extreme partisanship and embraced a know-nothing libertarianism that is starving the country of the essential investments it needs for growth. Those who vote for this tax bill — possibly the worst piece of major legislation in a generation — will live in infamy, as the country slowly breaks down.
Well okay, but the beleaguered middle class needs a tax cut, right? Maybe so, but they aren't  getting one from this bill. As David Leonhardt explains, working people pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes, and:

Now President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are trying to widen inequality even further. Their tax bill doesn’t touch the payroll-tax rate — again, the single biggest tax that most households pay. The bill does cut income taxes for the middle class, but only modestly and only temporarily. The tax cuts benefiting the wealthy, including cuts to the inheritance tax and the corporate tax, are much larger and permanent.
And the spending cuts that inevitably follow will more than wipe out those temporary little tax cuts. Why are the Republicans doing this? To benefit their billionaire donors. That is the only reason.

Anybody who votes for any Republican, ever, is a fool.

And, right on cue, "Top Republicans are already talking about cutting Medicare and Social Security next."


Gay Boy Bob said...

The interesting part of all of this is that during a period of increasing income tax reveues...

...public "investment" is at a 60 year low. The simple non-correlation of tax revenue to public spending should tell anyone with a brain stem that higher revenues will not change this.
Revenues have gone up, public spending went what makes anyone think that simply increasing taxes will fix the problem?

Also, NYT thinks that 75% of taxpayers will get a break. They have a calculator so any of your readers can estimate how it will affect their tax bill.

This bill is about income taxes.If you want to talk about cutting payroll taxes, we can have that conversation.

Don Quixote said...

I guess GBB, as usual, doesn't get it. Oh, well. For instance, the part about how almost everyone's taxes are going to INCREASE after 2024.

GBB also doesn't understand the correlation between exaggerated income disparity and decreased quality of life.

But I do. Having (unlike GBB, no doubt) lived in socialist countries, I can truly say that there are a hell of a lot fewer homeless people, excellent health care, great public services, etc. So actually when people pay more in taxes, they get more. As Cervantes has covered and proved many times in this column, taxes here are LOWER than in countries where people receive all of these services. So while the answer may not be to "tax the rich" heavily, the answer definitely IS: solve the huge chasm in discrepancy of wealth in the USA. What is obscene is the sheer amount of money some people don't and do have.