The ghost of Willie Sutton

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

The House and Senate have now passed different tax cut bills, so they’re headed to a conference committee to reconcile the differences. Both benefit the 1 percent of the rich and large corporations at the expense of the poor, workers and the middle class. The less you make, the more you are taxed under the Senate bill.

Republicans control the House, Senate and White House but haven’t been able to pass any significant legislation as promised during the campaign. So their rationale for the tax cut bill was finally expressed by Republican Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’”

The Center for American Progress argues that $1.5 billion in capital contributions to members of Congress on the tax writing committee equals $937 billion for corporations and businesses in net tax cuts over 10 years.

It is the biggest upward redistribution of income and wealth in the nation’s history. It is a heist that would make bank robber Willie Sutton blush with envy.

Specifically, the bill will:

• Increase taxes on the middle class, working families and, as a percentage on income, especially the poor – i.e., the 87 million Americans earning between $10,000 and $75,000.

• The economic growth that supporters of the old “trickle down” and “supply side” economic theory claim – but has never delivered – and as a result the deficits and debt will explode without achieving its overstated and over-promised outcomes. The Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation projects an increased GDP growth rate of only .08 percent.

• The structure of the bill gives rise to bad policy and impossible political choices – tax hikes on the poor, workers and the middle class OR huge budget deficits – the results of which would have adverse long-term economic consequences. Again, the Joint Committee on Taxation’s estimate of increased tax revenues is only $458 billion against $1,414 billion in tax cuts, essentially leaving a trillion-dollar gap between Republican projections of an economic boom that allegedly pays for the tax cuts.

• By effectively removing corporate offshore profits from taxation, the bill encourages companies to keep their profits offshore, thus shrinking the base of federal taxation far into the future, thus threatening the ability to pay for domestic and national security needs and priorities.

• The bill will undermine competition, further concentrate economic power in the largest economic sectors, and contribute to stagnating the economy because of an increase in monopolistic capitalism and a decline in consumer demand that constitutes 70 percent of the economy.

This bill affects every aspect of every American’s life, yet the hundreds of pages – some of it handwritten in the margins – were introduced just hours before being voted on. There were no hearings held, no expert witnesses called and no time to read it – the opposite of “regular order.”

Some Republicans concerned about the additional $1.5 trillion debt that will be added to the nation’s debt have proposed a triggering mechanism that would automatically raise taxes on the rich and corporations if the economy doesn’t deliver what Republicans say the tax cuts will do. If the trigger is put in, however, when their theory doesn’t stimulate the economy as promised, Republicans will suddenly rediscover they’re deficit hawks and demand cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. is the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He can be reached through


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