Taxes, Broadly Speaking
Ever since the Republicans canonized Ronald Reagan, they've been in thrall to the myth of "trickle-down economics," the theory that tax cuts to the wealthy will result in an explosion of new middle class jobs and higher wages. This happens, allegedly, as the benevolent rich guys reinvest in and grow their many enterprises, thus creating new opportunities for employment.
This idea was popularized among Republicans during St. Reagan's reign, 1981-89, a period of time during which I was not nearly as conscientious about following the vagaries of politics as I am now. Nevertheless, I was suspicious. There was something too glib, yet scripted, about the man, something about his moniker "the great communicator" that didn't ring true, something "actorish" about his performance. And when he justified the plight of migrant farm workers by saying they knew what they were getting into when they "chose" that line of work--well, how tone deaf can a person be? "Chose" that line of work? And how many choices did they have? If they had any, how often would "migrant farm worker" land on the top of the heap?
Enough of that. The point is that in spite of decades of evidence to the contrary, the GOP remains in a state of pathological denial. Here we go again with the trickle-down approach. Their belief that this works is based on something called--appropriately enough--the Laffer Curve, developed by someone named Arthur Laffer. What those trickle-downers fail to acknowledge, however, is that Laffer said this effect works best when the tax rate in question goes from close to 100 percent down to somewhere in the middle. Our top tax rate is far below the middle (actually, 39.6%) at the moment. Reducing it will likely do nothing but increase the wealth gap and the national debt.
I would assume that by the time one gets elected to the Congress, one has at least a modicum of understanding of the relationship between income and outgo in a healthy, self-sustaining system. Instead, these folks remind me of a conversation I overheard between my husband and our then 7-year-old son. Like a good father, Hal was explaining how, if Kenny saved some of his allowance every week, he would soon have enough to buy that expensive toy he wanted. Ken listened patiently for as long as he could stand it, then said, "But Dad, all I want to do with money is spend it!"
Since then, that young man has matured and sounds much less like a Republican. The Republicans, I'll grant you, may not have quite his overweening focus on spending, but they do like give-aways to their major donors (it ensures more money will flow into campaign coffers), and they don't worry about adding to our already mountainous debt as long as they can pass the whole thing on to future generations. And they'll save all they can by chipping away at those pesky programs that benefit all of us, including those who need help the most--irritating items like education, health care, school lunches, environmental protection, medical research, and infrastructure.
Granted, it's probably unfair now to paint all Republicans with the same brush, fractured as they have become. However, their long insistence on a monolithic, lock-step organization led, I believe, to the rise of the extreme right and had much to do with the logjam we find ourselves in today. It's time to inject reason and empathy and a profound comprehension of options and consequences into our political process. Our current president, the Deplorable-in-Chief, is incapable of all of that. Congress must step up to the plate.
One more thing: I'm sure you've heard that a Republican tax plan will benefit small businesses. Get on the internet sometime and try to find a clear, succinct statement of what constitutes a small business in government speak. There isn't one. Suffice it to say it seems to have more to do with type of ownership than with actual size of the business. We usually think of a small business as a family-run, often mom-and-pop kind of operation. Au contraire, mes amis. While some may be exactly that, others may have hundreds of employees and millions of dollars in assets. Just sayin'. Be wary.
November 17, 2017