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Reich writes: "Selling the Trump-Republican tax plan should be awkward for an administration that has made patriotism its central theme."

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)


Patriotism, Taxes, and Trump

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Website

13 November 17

 

elling the Trump-Republican tax plan should be awkward for an administration that has made patriotism its central theme.

That’s because patriotism isn’t mostly about saluting the flag and standing during the national anthem. 

It’s about taking a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.

But the tax plan gives American corporations a $2 trillion tax break, at a time when they’re enjoying record profits and stashing unprecedented amounts of cash in offshore tax shelters.

And it gives America’s wealthiest citizens trillions more, when the richest 1 percent now hold a record 38.6 percent of the nation’s total wealth, up from 33.7 percent a decade ago.

The reason Republicans give for enacting the plan is “supply-side” trickle-down nonsense. The real reason is payback to the GOP’s mega-donors.

A few Republicans are starting to admit this. Last week, Gary Cohn, Trump’s lead economic advisor, conceded in an interview that “the most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.”

Republican Rep. Chris Collins admitted that “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that if Republicans failed to pass tax reform, “the financial contributions will stop.”

Republican mega-donors view the tax payback as they do any other investment. When they bankrolled Trump and the GOP, they expected a good return.

The biggest likely beneficiaries are busily investing an additional $43 million to pressure specific members of Congress to pass it, according to The Wall Street Journal.

They include the 45Committee, founded by billionaire casino oligarch Sheldon Adelson and Joe Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs; and the Koch Brothers’ groups, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners.

They’re not doing this out of love of America. They’re doing it out of love of money.

How do you think they got so wealthy in the first place? 

As more of the nation’s wealth has shifted to the top over the past three decades, major recipients have poured some of it into politics – buying themselves tax cuts, special subsidies, bailouts, lenient antitrust enforcement, favorable bankruptcy rules, extended intellectual property protection, and other laws that add to their wealth.

All of which have given them more clout to get additional legal changes that enlarge their wealth even more.

Forty years ago, the estate tax was paid by 139,000 estates, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. By 2000, it was paid by 52,000. This year it will be paid by just 5,500 estates. Under the House tax plan, it will be eliminated altogether.

Why do Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of every other advanced economy? Because Big Pharma has altered the laws in its favor. Why do we pay more for internet service than most other nations? Big cable’s political clout. Why can payday lenders get away with payday robbery? The political heft of big banks.

Multiply these examples across the economy and you get a huge hidden upward redistribution from the paychecks of average working people and the poor to top executives and investors. (I explain this in detail in the documentary “Saving Capitalism,” airing next week on Netflix.)

All this is terrible for the American economy.  

More and better jobs depend on increasing demand for goods and services. This must come from the middle class and poor because the rich spend a far smaller share of their after-tax income.

Yet the middle class and poor have steadily lost purchasing power. Partly as a result, a relatively low share of the nation’s working-age population is employed today and the wages of the typical worker have been stuck in the mud.

The Republican tax plan will make all this worse by burdening the middle class and the poor even more.

A slew of analyses, including Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, show that the GOP plan will raise taxes on many middle-class families.

It will also require cuts in government programs that middle and lower-income Americans depend on, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

And the plan will almost certainly explode the national debt, eventually causing many middle class and poor families to pay higher interest on their auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards.

I don’t care whether the top executives of big corporations, Wall Street moguls, and heirs to vast fortunes salute the flag and stand for the national anthem.

But they enjoy all the advantages of being American. Most couldn’t have got to where they are in any other country. 

They have a patriotic duty to take on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going. And Trump and his enablers in Congress have a patriotic responsibility to make them.  


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+20 # PABLO DIABLO 2017-11-13 18:41
Start with repealing Citizens United. American corporations are sucking the last dollar out of the United States and moving on to new middle class markets in India and China.
WAKE UP AMERICA. Take the stranglehold corporations have on "our" government away.
 
 
0 # DongiC 2017-11-16 17:24
I agree. Get the money out of the American experiment with democracy or it is all over. "Citizens United" is a curse. The corporate class is prevailing and our leaders have been corrupted by campaign donations. The robber barons are rising once again.
 
 
+9 # JoanF 2017-11-13 18:56
They are absolutely shameless.
 
 
+6 # tedrey 2017-11-13 19:36
Cerainly with you on this, Robert.
 
 
+9 # angelfish 2017-11-13 20:21
Sorry Mr. Secretary. THIS bunch of ReTHUGlicans are of an Alien Strain. Greed is their Mantra and Self-Service, their ONLY goal! I have read about the "Robber Barons" of old, but even THEY paid attention when this country was in agony. One of them even PAID the National Debt! You won't see ANY of these Greedsters doing anything HALF so noble! Led by an Ignoramus of the WORST kind, because HE thinks he's Brilliant, they are on a collision course with the Special Prosecutor and I can't WAIT for the the Hammer to fall on ALL of their Disloyal, Treasonous carcasses, nailing them for once and for ALL Time! To have seen this country go from the days of "I like Ike" to THIS Mutant Putrescence is hard to stomach, I had thought we were ready to enter the new Millennium looking AHEAD to a better, Brighter Future for ALL of us....until the Trolls who usurped the RePublican Party and got the affable Fool, Reagan into our White House. It was the Beginning of the End for Life as we knew it in America. Not that it was wonderful for everyone BUT we were working on ourselves to REALLY become ALL the things our Founders envisioned. Sadly these Treacherous, Cretins have been working day and night to walk us BACK to the Swamp we've been trying to crawl out of! They've forgotten the Simple Truth that when everyone does better, EVERYONE does BETTER! So, Get ready to bring your Hammer down HARD on these Thieves, Mr. Mueller, they've wounded the Dream but, it's NOT dead yet! Let Justice be Done!
 
 
+14 # brycenuc 2017-11-13 20:46
Keep it up, Reich!

The only hope we have to prevent a pure oligarchy from emerging from Republican policies is for a lot of people speak up to what's going on.
 
 
+6 # Adoregon 2017-11-13 21:05
Who's corrupt? We're corrupt!

Who's corrupt? We're corrupt!

Who's corrupt? We're corrupt!

Welcome to the USF (United States of Fraud)

The American dream
is a pyramid scheme,
That'll make you smile
If you're a pig on top of the pile.

Oink!!!
 
 
+10 # elizabethblock 2017-11-13 22:18
Remember Romney calling the rich "job creators"? Read "Glass House," and you'll see that they are, in fact, job destroyers.
 
 
+12 # Doubledee 2017-11-14 06:01
Another insightful article from the usual source of such.
The way our democratic institutions have been subverted from administering the business of government from what the people need to what the wishes of the corporate happen to be has been ongoing for quite some time. It has never been so blatant, however, as now under Trump, nor so obvious.

Yet where is the outrage? Those misguided folks who stay loyal to this Tangerine Toddler's administration and to a Congress that abandons them so obviously is very puzzling, even disturbing. These are the people, in most cases, who will bear the brunt of hardships as our government robs the many to feed the few, the already obscenely wealthy.


What on earth has happened to our electorate?
 
 
0 # Richard Martin-Shorter 2017-11-16 10:29
Quoting Doubledee:
... where is the outrage?
What on earth has happened to our electorate?


Blind hatred is self-destructiv e. It's also so necessary to avoid taking any responsibility for one's own poor position in life. It's also very easy to engender in a large percentage of our electorate.

Republicans know this, and use that knowledge mercilessly to enrich themselves and destroy the fabric of our society, laughing as they run away with all the threads they have torn out of it.
 
 
+13 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-11-14 06:21
I don't think patriotism has anything to do with anything. Trump is a republican. The bible of republicans is neo-liberal economic theory, sometimes also called trickle down or supply side theory. Trump is going to follow this doctrine and all the Goldman Sachs bankers he has hired will do the same.

Neo-liberalism is committed to pushing as much wealth into the richest class of people has possible. It is an oligarch's economics.

People who don't like neo-liberalism should be now supporting the Sander's take over of the democratic party and the purge of the neo-liberals from the demo party. The Clinton faction is as neo-liberal as Trump. Bill Clinton brought in Goldman Sachs thieves to run his Treasure. Hillary gave $300,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs saying that she would defer to their expertise on economic policy.

We are at a crucial moment right now. Neo-liberalism is recognized by many people as theft. We may be able to push it out of the democratic party. The republicans are hopeless. Sander's democratic socialism is really possible. We can finally use the term "socialism" now in the US.

It is time to make dumping neo-liberalism the #1 issue of the 2020 presidential election. Trump's tax plan is exhibit A.
 
 
+2 # dascher 2017-11-14 07:12
It is about time that the GOP stopped shilly shallying with the tax code and simply made the rate for the top income bracket 0%. That would eliminate a lot of paperwork, accountants, shell companies, and other fraudulent nonsense and it would properly reward the "geniuses" who have accumulated vast wealth and power and who continue to do so while helping them accumulate even more wealth and power - as they justly deserve.
 
 
+2 # tedrey 2017-11-14 16:01
Unfortunately, there are folks who will not recognize this as sarcasm.
 
 
+12 # Texas Aggie 2017-11-14 08:50
Wealth has never yet sacrificed itself on the altar of patriotism. - Bob Lafollette
 
 
+3 # angelfish 2017-11-14 17:32
Trump is a Chameleon! He's whatever is popular at the moment. He USED to be a Democrat, now? He's ANYBODY'S. Basically, he's a Whore, NO disrespect to ANY working Girls out there, but he will DO anything, SAY anything and SCREW anyone, IF the Price is right! Putin must've have paid him a Sh*t-Load to evince such dogged Loyalty from someone who HAS never shown Loyalty to anyone or anything! All his "Sis-Boom Bah over the NFL not standing for the Anthem is a ruse to draw attention away from HIS scurrilous acts of Treason and Betrayal. His Children are TOO dumb to realize just HOW dumb he and they are, having NO decent Role-Model to emulate, they've absorbed ALL of donnie's worst Traits and, sadly WILL pay for them here or in the next life. We ARE at a crucial moment right now, so we ALL should muster whatever strength and sense of purpose we EVER had, and get BUSY Fixing this Travesty so that it can NEVER happen again! Congress needs to fling open the windows and AIR out the House and Senate and return to the business of HELPING Americans, as they did in the Fifties, after WW II, instead of trying to Start WW III! We've done it before and most certainly, we can do it again! Until then, Resist, Rebel, RePudiate!
 

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