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My Turn: GOP tax plan is ‘starve and spend’



For the Monitor
Sunday, December 17, 2017

American businesses have been chugging along nicely for several years now, and unemployment is lower than since Republicans left our economy in a ditch. Yet wages have not budged despite 30-plus years of repeated trickle-down voodoo.

Folks, businesses do not hire or raise wages unless they have no other choice: People are expensive, and automation is getting better and cheaper all the time. If you’re not competing with overseas workers, you’re going to be competing with software and robotics. Automation is overtaking outsourcing, and both have the middle class in a vise.

We have the highest medical costs on the planet, by far. But is Congress focusing on squeezing costs from big pharma or big insurance? Heck no, that’s hard work, and those big campaign funders might not like that. The solution our fearless leaders settled on? Dismantle or defund the Affordable Care Act if at all possible. If not, gut the individual mandate, kick off as many people as possible, and use the cost savings to fund a big, wet kiss to campaign donors.

This latest tax scam is the worst: Forget tax and spend; starve and spend is the philosophy of the Republican pols (a.k.a. I Got Miners). This, this is the prize the I. G. Miners have been driving at for years. Dark campaign financiers and monster businesses like the Kochs have invested billions, and will reap hundreds of billions, even trillions, in coming decades. That includes the president’s myriad companies (which he still brazenly and opaquely owns). He stands to reap tens to hundreds of millions from this. Blatant pay for play. Believe me.

The campaign puppet masters issued an ultimatum: Pass this bill or don’t call me next election. I. G. Miners have their orders, now they are getting in line. Talk about picking winners. No level playing field for you, buster!

The worst part, the worst, is that I. G. Miners are driving us further into debt for this big wet kiss to their corporate sugar daddies and rich elite buddies, and handing the enormous bill to us, our kids and our grandkids. Dark campaign money is paying hundredfold returns, and this farce will not result in good jobs or higher wages. John Kenneth Galbraith described trickle-down aptly: “If you feed enough oats to the horse, some might pass through to feed the sparrows.”

No more estate tax! Whee! Meritocracy, hard work and taxes are for suckers anyway, not our indolent trust fund kids. My kid gets all the advantages, your kid gets to pay the interest on the debt. Economic mobility is already worse here than in Europe, and they want it set in stone.

Deductions for exorbitant medical care costs? Not with this plan! Trying to get an education using student loans? Interest rates are high, no more grace period while at school and now no more deductions either. They survive bankruptcy, too! Plus, now they’re going to charge graduate students for teaching tuition allowances. Scrooge-anomics at its best. It is un-American and unconscionable.

I.G. Miners have been making policy sausage, buying votes (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling), trying to get every single Miner in line. It is window dressing: Personal tax breaks wane down the road, but the corporate giveaways are permanent. This brazen robbery has been carried out with maximum secrecy – no hearings, no discussion. The Senate had 20 minutes to read the final bill. Twenty minutes!

The hard and fast driver of this entire show has been cutting corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent. Never mind that companies have parked trillions offshore for years, waiting for this very moment. Never mind that many of these businesses already hire teams of accountants and lawyers to evade nearly all taxes. You and I and, worst of all, our kids and grandkids are going to be paying for this charade for a long time. Mitch McConnell can barely contain his glee, and the fiscal hypocrisy is rank.

Meanwhile, back at the Gold Foil Ranch, Trump’s groupies are heading agencies, doing their best to neuter (FCC net neutrality), disband or sidetrack them. Hate a particular agency? If you’ve been vocal enough about it, chances are you’ll end up in charge of it. They’ve been busy gutting Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Hope you like bailing out the big guys. Again.

And a neat ancillary benefit of starving government is that it will run worse, demoralizing federal workers, building our distrust and feeding their narrative. But we end up getting much less for our money than countries that work with their agencies and hold them to account. Federal government is over 20 percent of GDP folks. Don’t you think we should be getting the most for our hard-earned dollars?

So here we are again: Pedal to the metal, make another greed bubble. Greed greed greed, drill baby drill. These folks won’t be happy until they drive us straight back into the ditch. Then they’ll jump out, take the profits and leave the mess for the rest of us to clean up. Again. And scream like crazy if we don’t bail them out fast enough. Again.

We’re almost great. Again!

(Jeff Eitreim lives in Hopkinton.)