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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/23/17

The Middle Class Is So Christmas Past

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From Our Future

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch -
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch -
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Republicans promised the American people a tax bill for Christmas, and this week they delivered. It's definitely a bill for working people and the poor because by 2025, they'll pay more. For them, poverty is the new black.

By contrast, Congress bestowed 83 percent of the new tax law's benefits on the richest 1 percent. For them, greenbacks are the new black.

On the first day of Christmas
The GOP gave to me
A tax break for the wealthy

The 1 percent have already roasted and eaten the partridge, the pair of turtle doves, the three French hens, the four calling birds, the six geese, even the seven swans. They are, after all, very rich. And now, with these tax changes, Republicans in Congress have swiped Tiny Tim's turkey and handed it to the wealthy so they can gorge themselves on it too.

Republicans hate income redistribution when it flows from the tony top down to impoverished Cratchits. But they delight in reaching into working people's pockets and converting those coins into golden rings for the rich. That's exactly what the GOP tax bill does.

The meager tax breaks awarded the working poor and middle class in this tax bill expire, like Cinderella's outfit and entourage, before the tolling of a decade. In addition, the bill increases other costs for workers.

For example, it changes the way tax brackets are indexed to inflation. That means workers will enter higher brackets faster, even though their incomes don't rise any quicker. This will cost the middle class and poor $25.6 billion, which the GOP used to offset the big fat breaks it gave the rich and corporations.

The new inflation index is meaningless to the rich. They don't change tax brackets after reaching the top. For them, the marginal rate -- lowered from 39.6 percent to 37 percent -- remains the same whether they earn $500,000 or $5 million.

On top of the inflation index scam, the tax bill will raise health insurance premiums because it repeals the mandate that all Americans carry coverage. Without the requirement, fewer people will buy insurance. Initially, that's likely to be younger and healthier people. As a result, older and sicker people will be concentrated in plans, increasing costs by about 10 percent every year. That, in turn, will force out those who can't afford the higher premiums. The number of uninsured by 2019 is estimated at 4 million; by 2027, it's 13 million.

But, hey, look on the bright side, the feds won't pay as much to subsidize poor people's health insurance when so many drop out. Thirteen million uncovered Americans enabled Republicans to give $53.3 billion in tax breaks to the rich! That's jolly, right?

Have a holly, jolly Christmas;
It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be snow
but have a cup of cheer

Workers will need some cheer when the bills come due even as they watch the wealthy use their tax handouts to buy extra Mercedes for Christmas. Every year. The average tax break for the 1 percent will be $55,000. That's a couple thousand dollars more than the median income in the United States, in other words, what all of the workers in a typical American household make together for an entire year.

Also, fewer wealthy people will have to pay that pesky alternative minimum tax charged when excessive loopholes zero out tax bills. Real estate tycoons and others operating "pass through" corporations get a huge break as well. And couples can now bequeath $22 million to their kiddies tax free, instead of the current piddling $11 million!

And it is the rich who will benefit from the slashed corporate tax rate -- which free falls from the current 35 percent down to 21 percent. That big fat turkey doesn't expire either. It means higher dividends for shareholders -- that is CEOs, trust fund babies and others rich enough to own stock.

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Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW - United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union) is in his second full term since being elected (more...)

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