D.C. Republicans Believe That Rich People Don’t Have Enough Money
The D.C. Republicans and the reactionary GOP billionaire oligarchs believe that rich people don’t have enough money and that the middle class and the poor have it too easy. I have run this thesis by some Republican friends of mine and they have reacted with a combination of outrage and ridicule. I say let’s take a look at the actual policies that have been supported by the D.C. Republicans over the years and ignore their misleading rhetoric.
The reality in present day America is that the super wealthy and large corporations are lightly taxed. That is the end result of thirty eight years of GOP trickle down economics. During the Obama Administration, the Treasury Department tracked the tax liability of the top 400 income earners. During the Bush Administration, the top 400 paid an effective rate of 16.72%. That liability went up to 23% when Obama raised taxes on the wealthy. Since Trump has been president*, the Treasury Department has ended this report. It’s probably safe to say the top 400 earners are now paying the Bush era rate or even less.
A tax liability of 16.72% is less than most middle class Americans pay. Moreover, we have evidence that some of our super wealthy pay even less or nothing at all. This is because the super wealthy don’t pay income or FICA taxes. All of their income is taxed at the lower and preferential capital gains and dividends rate. And those same super wealthy individuals have access to a vast array of tax shelters and avoidance schemes.
Two concrete examples of our corrupt tax system can be found with Mitt Romney and Donald J. Trump. When Romney was running for president in 2012, he only released one year of his tax returns. In the one year he let us see, Romney was obligated to pay only 9% of his earnings. There were credible allegations that were some years where Romney paid nothing.
The orange hued mogul admitted in 2016 that there were years where he didn’t pay any taxes. There is also evidence that Trump paid no taxes in 1978, 1979 and 1984. Trump attempted to justify paying zero taxes by contending: “Well, that would make me smart.” The former TV reality star has also received approximately $885 million in New York subsidies and tax breaks.
It’s not only super wealthy individuals who are lightly taxed, big companies in the U.S. pay a lower tax rate than most Americans. According to a 2013 study by the non-partisan GAO, the average big company paid just 12.6% of their global profits in federal income taxes. (Trump and the D.C. Republicans have since substantially reduced corporate taxes.)
What is even more outrageous is that many highly profitable corporations pay no taxes at all! Despite earning record profits in 2017–18, Amazon paid zero taxes in the last two years. This is unreal since the internet giant is the third most valuable company on the planet and earned $10 billion in 2018.
Amazon isn’t the only freeloader. In 2018, Netflix made a record profit of $845 million and paid zero federal and state income taxes. The streaming service even pocketed a $22 million rebate!
According to a 2015 USA Today study, there were 27 profitable companies who paid no taxes in 2015. Some of them are as follows: Level 3; United Airlines; General Motors; Hewlett Packard; E Trade; Microchip Tech; Loews; PG&E; Xerox; News Corp (owns Fox); and Weyerhauser.
This low tax environment isn’t free for middle class Americans. There are significant costs associated with it. America’s aging infrastructure got a near failing grade of D plus in 2017 from the American Society of Civil Engineers. College costs have been rising for years — saddling our young people with a whopping $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. According to former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich: “We have highest deficit relative to our GDP among 35 advanced economies because of a shortage of tax revenue, mostly from corporations and the wealthy. Our spending on social programs is among lowest of these 35 economies, and we bring in the fifth-lowest total revenue as a share of GDP.”
Nonetheless, the D.C. Republicans and the GOP oligarchs believe that our social safety net is still too generous. In October 2018, Mitch McConnell called for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts in light of the $1 trillion annual deficits created by Trump’s tax cut and spending spree.
McConnell and the Senate Republicans don’t want to stop at gutting our already thin safety net — they want even more tax cuts for the super wealthy. Just last month, McConnell and a group of powerful GOP Senators came out in favor of the complete repeal of the estate tax. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has long favored the repeal of the estate tax. This tax cut would cost $269 billion and benefit the top .02%.
I don’t care what the D.C. Republicans say. When you add it all up, they do believe that rich people don’t have enough money and that the poor and the middle class have it too good. I predict that once this phony “crisis” at the border recedes from the headlines due to protracted litigation, the D.C. Republicans will declare a “budget crisis” and demand cuts to middle class programs. They will be joined in this call by the “liberal” mainstream media and the large corporations.
Thanks to your hard work in 2018, we won a big victory and regained control of the House of Representatives in 2018. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats will block any attempt by the radical right to take away Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. (It was Pelosi who helped save Social Security from George W. Bush in 2005.) We need to resist the D.C. Republicans and make sure the voters are fully aware of their reactionary agenda in 2020.
The Republicans can’t run on their actual record and win in 2020. The D.C. Republicans come out in support of Social Security and Medicare in October and November in even numbered years. We need to call them out and make sure the voters understand their true agenda. The GOP is counting on mass voter amnesia. Our job is to refresh voter memories. We can do it! Yes we can!