Thanks, Trump (Gwen Moritz Editor's Note)

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 12:00 am   3 min read

Just when I was getting my mind around bigger federal income tax bills in my future, the Republicans have voted to borrow money to help me out.

2017, you see, was the first time since 1990 that my husband and I had no dependents and no mortgage interest to claim. And for the first time since 2009, we had no college expenses.

Oh, this tax season we’ll try to lower our bill a bit by hurrying up some charitable giving, maxing out the health savings account and adding to our IRAs. I mean, that’s what the tax code encourages those of us lucky enough to have some flexibility in our budgets to do, right? But for 2018 and beyond, the new standard deduction is more than we ever itemized, so I expect to benefit.

I still think the new tax bill is a bad one. Yes, even though I personally benefit, I still think it was exceptionally bad policy to increase the national debt at a time when the economy is healthy by most measures. And even if it were a good time to stimulate the economy with more deficit spending, I could think of a lot better uses for the borrowed money than spending most of it to further enrich the richest Americans.

At this point, let me try to save some of you some time. You need not email me to tell me that:

People should be able to keep their own money.

I’m not an anarchist who believes that all taxes are theft, and your email is not going to change my mind on that. Deciding how to tax and how to spend is essentially all our legislators do. Whether they are doing it well is a matter of opinion, and this is mine.

I’m free to keep paying more taxes.

I know that too. But I’m not inclined to make a sacrifice so that those adorable Trump heirs can inherit more. I have heirs of my own who will also inherit the national debt.

The tax cuts are going to pay for themselves by supercharging economic growth.

I hope they do. I also hope that Arkansas will experience an average high temperature of 75 degrees this August. But I don’t think any of us should count on something unprecedented.

I’m engaging in class warfare.

So I’ve been told — repeatedly. If the definition of class warfare is “expressing concern for the economic well-being of anyone who isn’t already wealthy,” then I’m guilty as charged.

This is not to say I didn’t recognize the need to “reform” our tax code — a loaded word, since it implies improvement — and I’m not so naive as to think that I’ll ever be completely happy with any legislation. But I would have preferred reforms that were more like what President Trump promised voters — aimed at the working class, not going to benefit people like him, believe me — or that would result in a postcard-size return like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was waving around in that photo op. And I’ve longed for a lower marginal corporate tax rate if only to keep politicians from pretending that most corporations actually pay 35 percent. But I wanted it to be done by closing loopholes, not by adding to the deficit.

So we didn’t get much that appealed to me. As Marco Rubio — Republican senator from Florida and preferred presidential candidate of a quarter of Arkansas Republican primary voters in 2016 — noted after voting for the bill, “I thought we probably went too far on [helping] corporations.”

Here’s another thing you need not email to point out:

Those lower corporate tax rates are already starting to trickle down.

Yes, I’ve seen the rush to announce one-time bonuses for employees and, even better, higher minimum wages in companies where almost everyone earns that much or more already. Those things are certainly good news for the people who will benefit, even though most of the companies could afford those bonuses without the tax cuts and even if the higher wages seem to my born-suspicious mind to be as related to the tight labor market as to a tax windfall.

I’m hoping to see bonuses announced year after year. And widespread wage growth of the kind the middle class hasn’t enjoyed in decades. But I’m not investing my tax break in summer-print cardigans to stave off the August chill.


Gwen Moritz is editor of Arkansas Business. Email her at GMoritz@ABPG.com.

 

 

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