My Turn: Shocking reality of ‘tax reform’


Monday, February 05, 2018

The hardest part of writing about the current administration’s policies is figuring out where to start, but wealth transfer, aka “tax reform,” is as good a place as any.

Full disclosure: I am one of those whose taxes will probably go down, for a few years at any rate, but not forever like the wealthiest citizens and largest corporations, who, it is becoming clear, will not only reap the majority of the cash benefits, but will also enjoy even more loopholes (remember them — they were going to be closed) like carried interest — a “scam,” according to the president on the campaign trail. Some large corporations like Walmart, however, have heroically responded by raising the minimum wage of their labor force by two dollars, an increase made affordable by the closing of a number of Sam’s Clubs, potentially laying off 11,000 people. Many of the remaining employees will still need to rely on Medicaid and food stamps to make it through the day.

It is also becoming quite evident that stock buy backs (illegal before 1982) by CEO’s and others will be the result of the speed-record tax plan, falsely inflating share value and further enriching the company’s officers. I’m no expert, but isn’t this the kind of manipulation that helped bring about the great recession?

Next on the agenda is a related issue: CHIPS funding. This health insurance for needy children, which has certainly been used by many of those newly wealthy Walmart employees, has yet to be funded because, according to Orrin Hatch, “We don’t have the money.” Might that be because it’s mostly been directed to the wealthy and defense? In addition, the uber rich no longer have to worry about the estate tax, which only applied to less than one-tenth of 1 percent — those poor souls who have only billions of dollars to be concerned about.

How far would the tax on those folks go to fund CHIPS?

Let me interject here that I have no problem with anyone who has worked hard for wealth. My problem is with those who are trying to buy our country with their wealth. The environment also begs a question: Is drilling offshore and in the national parks a way to preserve our precious land for future generations or is it a sop to the donor class?

Then there is immigration, DACA and accepting people from “s**t hole countries” in Africa, or from Haiti. Norwegians have already said that they prefer to stay home rather than come to America, because of more stable governance and the overt racism that is perceived to be growing here daily.

And on it goes — Russia and collusion; nuclear brinkmanship; the swinging door of people leaving the administration, sometimes in disgrace; the suspected violation of the emoluments clause (do golf carts and long vacations at the president’s resorts count? Jared’s real estate? lvankas’s jewelry?); and the wall, ah, the wall, a once $6 billion affair, paid for by Mexico, now an $18 billion debacle paid for by our beautifully lowered taxes.

Whatever happened to the deficit hawks in Congress?

One final question: Having manipulated the tax code so cleverly to his advantage, why does President Trump not show us his taxes so that we can see how he is “being hurt, big time?” I have always thought that this kind of unwillingness to be transparent was a red flag for something unseemly.

And a suggestion: Encourage non-registered voters to register and vote. This year and 2020 are looking like two of the most important elections in our lifetime.

Barry McColgan taught English in high school for 40 years, 25 of them in Greenfield. He currently lives in Greenfield.