Column: Hopes, worries and fantasies for the GOP’s new tax law
January 5, 2018
I hope the new Republican tax law succeeds. I say that as a devout liberal who would like nothing more than for President Donald Trump to exit the White House sooner than later, and for the Democrats to regain control of the House and possibly the Senate in 2018. But partisan feelings aside, if the new law can deliver on its promises, then I will admit I was wrong in doubting that it would succeed, and accept the fact that a victory for hard working Americans also means a victory for Trump and the Republican Party.
I don't agree with the choices many voters made in putting Trump in power in 2016, but I do believe that their grievances with the economic system rigged against them were not only legitimate, but shared by the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democrat Party. I just would have preferred the election of either Sanders or Warren rather than Trump be the vehicle for getting those grievances addressed. Trump operates from his own reality distortion field but the economic complaints that helped get him elected were and are real.
I also don't believe the fact that the new tax law provides greater benefits to the rich than the working classes matters much to the people who voted for Trump, or the independents who might have done likewise, or even to moderate Democrats who didn't like Trump but who shared the same economic concerns that his supporters did. The rich getting even richer doesn't upset the working classes as long as they see an economic benefit accruing to them, too.
Economic inequality is a concern mostly for the ultra liberal wing of the Democrat party. The rest of the far less wealthy in this country are not looking for economic justice. A few more shekels in their pockets is what they really want. Getting a much smaller sliver of the economic pie than received by the rich does not enrage them as long as the slice they receive is larger than the last slice given to them.
My worries center on what will happen if the new tax law fails to deliver on its promises. What then? What happens if hard-pressed Americans do not see an increase in jobs, an improvement in wages, a return to America of the factories and plants lost to much cheaper economic competition over the past 40 years? I care less about the political fury that might be unleashed against the Republicans.
Such a backlash may satisfy my interests as a liberal, but it doesn't improve the day to day living conditions of hard working folks who are looking for solutions to their economic plight from whichever political party can provide them. Trump, after all, did connect with the real economic grievances of his supporters, even if as president he may be unable to deliver on his promises.
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My fantasies focus on what I think should happen if the new tax law fails. I refer to them as fantasies because in the current political climate they are no more likely to be fulfilled than are my fantasies for an end to poverty, the prospects for world peace, and the enactment of robust gun control legislation. In my fantasy scenario, the very rich would be held accountable to the same system of success and failure which the rest of us live by. Specifically, I want a magic provision added to the new tax law which would claw back from the rich and transfer to the lower middle classes the financial gains the rich received and didn't deserve because the promises made regarding the economy weren't kept. Which promises? Oh, you know, the ones about the new tax law benefiting Main Street and not just Wall Street. Those promises.
For those folks, I realize how foolishly absurd all this must sound to you. I find it mildly insane, too.
The wealthiest 1 or 2 percent in this country have gamed the system too well to allow for that kind of accountability. There is a reason that millions of dollars pass from the hands of the privileged classes into the pockets of lobbyists and lawyers and accountants each year. The rich pay those expenses so that their vast wealth is not re-distributed in the form of higher taxes paid by them to benefit their much less well off fellow citizens. They don't wish to see their tax increases being used to pay for specific programs such as job re-training, health insurance, college loan assistance, child care and elder care costs.
Accountability is preached by the rich but intended for practice by every other economic class in the country but them. The rich are richer than everyone else for reasons that transcend merit. They are richer because they work very hard to make sure that doesn't change.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail.
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