Editorial: Tax-cut bills are milestones in the history of American plutocracy

The Senate Republicans’ disastrous tax-cut bill was moving inexorably toward passage late last week when two key GOP senators suddenly realized that the $1.5 trillion package wouldn’t pay for itself.

Well, of course it wouldn’t pay for itself. Since details began to emerge last summer, every independent analysis said it wouldn’t. Nearly every economist from across the political spectrumagreed. The notion that corporations and wealthy Americans, who would receive the vast majority of the benefits, would invest their windfall in ways that would trickle down to the rest of America was always the big lie at the heart of this legislation.

But it wasn’t until Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation projected Thursday that the bill would add $1 trillion to deficits over the course of a decade — even after accounting for economic growth — that a couple of Senate deficit hawks began to have second thoughts. Not coincidentally, both of them, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, aren’t seeking re-election. They were thus free to ignore the Republican donors for whom this tax-cut bill is a massive payoff.

Senate leaders spent Friday seeking ways to finesse Corker and Flake. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill had enough votes to pass. The next step will be reconciling it with the version that the House passed Nov. 16.

Both bills contain different horrible things, but the overall implications are the same: Most people will see lower taxes next year, but by 2027 most individual tax cuts will expire. The result, says the Congressional Budget Office: Lower-income taxpayers will jointly pay $5.3 billion more in taxes, and those earning $1 million or more will pay $5.8 billion less.

This is staggering: A donation of $5.3 billion a year by lower-middle class workers to the richest 1 percent of Americans.

These bills are milestones in the history of American plutocracy — a government run by wealthy people for the benefit of wealthy people. It’s no coincidence that income inequality in America began accelerating in the mid-1970s, the same time that the U.S. Supreme Court declared, in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976, that limiting political campaign donations violated the First Amendment.

– St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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