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GOP Tax Plan: Hardly "Reform," But Tax Cuts "Cost" Nothing

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 10/4/17

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The Trump administration and congressional Republicans released their grandiosely titled "Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code" on September 27. The plan looks a lot more like a grab bag designed by lobbyists than like any kind of carefully considered plan for "tax reform."

It's full of smoke and mirrors. For example, the one-page highlight sheet brags that "the framework roughly doubles the standard deduction so that typical middle-class families will keep more of their paycheck." I'd hoped that this might be the start of something like an Incremental Tax Exemption program (themite.org). But as I dug into the details, it turned out to be a bait and switch scam: "To simplify the tax rules, the additional standard deduction and personal exemptions for the taxpayer and spouse are consolidated into this larger standard deduction." The plan takes as much more from you on one side of the equation as it leaves with you on the other.

When critics point out that the plan's tax cuts are weighted heavily toward the wealthiest Americans, they're right. It's full-on "supply side" hokum: Cut the corporate and other business rates and wealth will "trickle down" as entrepreneurs innovate and create jobs. But "demand side" cuts would actually convey more information to those entrepreneurs, guiding their innovation as they chase the additional dollars left in the pockets of regular consumers.

I'm all for tax cuts and not terribly particular about where they fall. But let's be honest: Cutting the corporate and top rates isn't about sound economics, it's about whose lobbyists buy the most expensive lunches for, and who contributes most reliably to the campaigns of, which politicians.

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Of course, the main criticism coming from opponents of tax cuts as such is that those cuts would "cost" the US government something. The New York Times claims (drawing on an analysis by the Tax Policy Center) that "the corporate tax cuts will cost nearly $7 trillion over the next two decades .... the entire package is expected to cost an estimated $5.6 trillion over the next 20 years."

Well, no. The total "cost" of the proposed tax cuts would be a whopping zero dollars and zero cents.

If I'm mugged one night and it turns out I left my wallet at home, that fact doesn't "cost" the mugger the $20 that was in it. The $20 wasn't his in the first place. It was mine. If I walk past a restaurant without buying something to eat, it doesn't "cost" the restaurateur anything. Ditto for money that government doesn't take from you or me.

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Politicians want us to believe that our money naturally belongs to government and that letting us keep any of it is generosity on their part. But politicians don't create wealth. They just seize it from the rest of us, or borrow it from lenders who expect them to seize it from us later.

The Republican plan looks like a combination of weak tea, scammy distractions and voodoo economics to me. But I guess we could do (and have done) worse.

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http://thegarrisoncenter.org

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.



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3 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments


John Jonik

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The One-Percent, with all their flags and "patriotism", by evading proper progressive taxation (if they pay taxes at all), are evading and failing to contribute to the US Military and "homeland" security and even to salaries of their friends in government who wear those flag lapel pins.
But they don't need to pay legitimate taxes if the military and the rest can be paid by taking funds from Social Security, CHIP, EPA, CDC, HHS, etc.

PS: If one can excuse not baking a cake for an LGBT wedding on religious grounds (case en route to Sup Court) the stage is set for those with religious objections to US militarism etc to not pay taxes either....unless those taxes go, instead, to Public Needs.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 at 8:12:24 AM

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Resisting taxes to oppose militarism, for religious or other conscientious reasons, has a long American history going back to at least Thoreau. For more information, I suggest the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (rcc.org/).


As far as the One Percent are concerned, any tax system will ultimately serve them. The state, as Marx noted, is the executive committee of the ruling class.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 at 9:09:30 AM

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David William Pear

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Thanks Tom,

I wish the NYT, msm, Trump opponents, liberals and progressives would write more editorials about the costs of wars. This is a real cost and not a made up cost (i.e. 'tax expenditure').

It really angers me that the latest holocausts are costing the lives of millions of people. Eventually my anger may boil over to the point of bringing up the history of the "Good Germans and the real meaning of "never again", a taboo subject in many quarters.

The US is that mugger that Tom speaks about only he didn't finish the story: if you left your wallet at home it may "cost" the mugger $20, but it will likely cost you your life. NYC muggers don't take being stiffed lightly.

Countries that do not submit to being mugged by the US will be made examples of, such as Libya and Syria, and maybe soon DPRK (North Korea), Lebonon and Iran. It will cost them the destruction of their country and turning the nation over to a bunch of hoodlums.

The other less immoral cost is the $1 Trillion a year in spending called the "Defense Budget" which far exceeds even the outrageous admitted $700 Billion. Who knows how much is spend and where it goes as the Pentagon has not been audited in years, and Billions of dollars of plane loads of cash went missing. They don't even know how much disappeared. (fortunately the msm does slip up and discloses some helpful facts (here).

So while the left whines about $7 billion in tax cuts over 20 years, in that same amount of time the secret state will actually spend an estimated $20 Billion making single use products that self-destruct and destroy $billions in infrastructure along with them and shred humans into hamburger meat.

If their was a real tax to pay for wars it would end them.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 at 1:47:47 PM

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Yep. "Defense" (read: military) spending is the single largest line item in the federal budget. Bigger than Social Security. Bigger than Medicare. And that's the above-board portion of military spending. Lots of it is tucked into other line items to obscure its real purpose. And its main purpose is to move as much money as possible from workers' pockets into the bank accounts of "defense" contractors.

Submitted on Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 at 2:30:45 PM

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"Reform" has for too long been a mainstream acceptable word.

Submitted on Thursday, Oct 5, 2017 at 5:12:12 AM

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