- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio argues that the Republican legislation to overhaul the US tax code would disproportionately benefit wealthier Americans. De Blasio zeroes in on the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction for individuals, which would hit New Yorkers especially hard.
Here we go again. The GOP has tried to pull this one on Americans many times before. We’ve spent the last four decades being sold the same, tired, trickle-down economics. We know how this painful reality plays out. Our leaders steal from the hardworking middle-class Americans to give to the rich and working people slide deeper and deeper into economic despair.
Now, we have President Trump and Republicans in Congress trotting out the broken thinking of the past with a tax proposal that takes from the rest of us to give to the wealthy and corporations.
Take a look at what their tax proposals would do. Big banks and multinational corporations will reap a bonanza of tax cuts totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.
They pay for this giveaway with everyone else’s money. They have to find cash somewhere and that almost always means raising taxes on working people and the middle class while cutting the very services and supports that help them. It strains belief that the Republicans are describing this as a tax cut for middle-class Americans. It is an attack on them.
Let me give you just one example from the current Republican scheme. They want to change the longstanding deduction of state and local taxes that individual taxpayers and families take on the federal form.
That would affect around 100 million Americans, most of whom earn less than $200,000 a year, according to the nonpartisan Government Finance Officers Association. Many of these families would see their taxes increase. In New York City nearly 700,000 families earning less than $200,000 would see their taxes increase under the proposed bill, with their average tax hike exceeding $1,000.
The Republicans might as well ask hardworking New Yorkers to withdraw $1,000 from the bank machine and find a hedge fund manager to give it to. Meanwhile, losing that money will force families to make terrible choices between food and medicine or rent and tutoring for a child.
Americans cannot afford to pay taxes twice on the same money. So, if the state and local deduction goes on the federal level, localities may have to cut their taxes. That means less protection from police. That means waiting longer for an ambulance to show up. That means school classrooms becoming more crowded.
Of course, the Republicans are removing the state and local deduction just for families and individual taxpayers. Under their plan, corporations are free to continue taking the deduction as always.
And that’s just the beginning. Their plan also calls for eliminating deductions for major medical expenses and interest on student loans, among other changes that will punish working families who are struggling to make it – in some cases literally struggling to survive.
Under their plan they eliminate a bond program that has been vital for the construction and preservation of affordable housing for low and middle-income New Yorkers, and make it more difficult for communities to pay for repairs to roads, bridges, and hospitals.
- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
But even a massive tax increase on the middle class isn’t going to balance the books. It’s only a matter of time before the GOP sets its sights on cutting Social Security and Medicare. That means seniors becoming homeless and dying of treatable illnesses.
I agree with the president on one thing: We need to reform our tax code. But I think we should be taking that reform in exactly the opposite direction. Our tax code should address our country’s runaway inequality. It should ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share, so that all Americans can reap the rewards of their drive, skill and spirit, which have built our economy.
Let’s start by closing loopholes that unreasonably benefit the 1%. Let’s end the carried-interest loophole, which allows hedge-fund billionaires to pay a lower rate of taxes on their income than the salaries their secretaries pay. Let’s increase, rather than eliminate, the estate tax, which is paid only by the heirs and heiresses of multi-million dollar fortunes.
Today, millions of Americans are working full time, living in retirement after productive lives, and starting out their lives with hopes and dreams – and they’re struggling. If we’re serious about honoring the family, caring for our seniors and making a world the next generation can thrive in, then we need every American, including the wealthiest, to invest in our society in proportion to what they’ve gained from it.
Let’s reform our tax code to serve all Americans, not a privileged few.