One of the most illuminating conversations I’ve had on Facebook was with a friend who supports Trump. The convo was long before Trump was running for office, though he may have been pushing the birther mess at the time. I was arguing against tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. She was arguing for them, saying that the “best and the brightest” should be rewarded. This view is not unique to her–it’s how the GOP sells tax cuts for the wealthiest to it’s voters. My argument back at her was that many of the wealthiest aren’t the best or brightest–they often didn’t make their fortunes, they inherited them. I have no desire to tag her and cause a mud-slinging match. She’s a lovely person with whom I share many interests, but we fundamentally disagree on this.
I don’t believe that tax cuts for the wealthy create more jobs. I think they give tax cuts to people who need them the least, and politicians push these cuts because megabucks donors contribute to politicians whose trickle down policies never trickle down to create those jobs as promised. Remember when Elizabeth Warren tweeted that Trump’s business failures and bankruptcies were so extensive that if he’d held on to his inheritance, he’d have more money than all he’d inherited and lost?
They say no president can win without promising tax cuts. Well, I disagree. When Obama was campaigning against Romney, remember that Palm Beach video of Romney at a fundraiser calling everyone on social services from students to welfare recipients to the disabled to veterans and senior citizens “takers”? Obama was horrified, and to prove that he and Democrats were the party of the people, he campaigned on raising taxes on everyone making $250,000 and above. Romney was made to look like a rich cad, and Obama won. Shortly afterwards, Obama went against his word and raised taxes on those making above $400,000 per year. That’s a lot of revenue Obama lost with that move. Somehow, those doing better get the tax cuts. Probably because those making hundreds of thousands per year have a good bit more coins to contribute to campaigns than folks who feel the wolves at their door financially. Just as this current GOP tax bill will screw the poor the most.
Bernie Sanders was on MSNBC last night blasting the GOP tax plan. However, he never mentioned once that any kind of democratic socialist, which he calls himself, would definitely seek to raise everyone’s taxes in order to pay for social services like single-payer healthcare and affordable college. I support Bernie and his progressive ideas. But three things have to happen.
1) We are all going to pay higher taxes if we’re to enjoy state-run healthcare as enjoyed in most industrialized countries from Canada to Cuba and all over Europe. When I speak to people from these countries, they enjoy the healthcare–not the higher taxes. But the idea of paying slightly higher income tax and zero monthly insurance premiums sounds worth a shot to me. The money from the single-payer has to got to come from somewhere. While the ACA was being crafted, 80% of Democrats favored single-payer. To pay for it, we all must be taxed at a higher rate. So do you still want it or not?
But before you peg me as a Bernie bro, I respect the guy. I’m a progressive. But last night he was interviewed on MSNBC and was bashing the GOP tax plan, or tax scam, if you will. He railed against it, and briefly mentioned that he supports single payer. But he never said any of what I’ve written below, which I feel to be the unpopular truth-putting two and two together to enable his own plans to happen. He was soft-pedaling what Americans need to hear and what I think many agree with. Maybe I’m more progressive than Bernie, but here’s what I’d like to hear him say a lot more forcefully on this issue.
2) Stop spending half of our tax dollars on wars against countries which never attacked us. Or government is more concerned with paying for “stupid” wars, as Obama called Iraq, or conflicts in Syria which have no military solution. Do you have issues in Syria or Yemen? Then why should your government take half of your tax dollars to fund them?
3) Force the corporations to pay the tax rates they used to pay decades ago, before both parties were so corrupted by their donors. Some giant companies like GE pay but a fraction of their corporate tax rate. Some giant companies pay $0 in taxes. While we argue over tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%, check this: some pay $0! You can’t cut lower than that.
If Congress were truly representing their constituents instead of their wealthy donors, they would root out tax havens, loopholes and other gifts to the mega-rich as just exposed by the Panama Papers. The Queen of England, a Trump official, a Bono-affiliated venture, an aide to Justin Trudeau, Madonna, Apple and many others were caught hiding their money so that they paid no taxes on it whatsoever. Can our government not root this out? They’ve audited friends of mine and Wesley Snipes. Doesn’t the government have any interest in unearthing these hidden treasures which they could then tax? Think how much revenue these hidden fortunes could put toward healthcare, rebuilding the infrastructure or restoring CHIP, the children’s insurance plan which expires on 1/1. Worry about the influence of Russian oligarchs, but the international elite get whatever influence they desire. And the richest nation in the history of the world is denying children and adults healthcare, education, infrastructure, etc. Things we badly need.
I’ll bet if we cut our insane war budget, forced corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share by getting rid of their loopholes and tax havens, there would be plenty of money for social services. And with all of that cash freed up, perhaps a democratic socialist’s small tax increases in exchange for vital healthcare might be even smaller a raise than Sanders imagines. It’s just that those who need these services can’t afford to bribe politicians. Isn’t your government meant to represent you? Well, they aren’t. They shamelessly do the bidding anyone who pays them, and workers can’t afford to gain their ears.
To see Bernie Sanders soft-pedalling the fact that we need higher taxes to heal this country rather than blow up others, doesn’t give me much hope in a man I admire. Sure, blast the GOP tax giveaway to the rich as a transfer of wealth to the already insanely wealthy. But don’t just blast their plan, counter it with your own solution. I don’t want to bomb other countries and harm their citizens. I’d rather help the citizens of this country with my tax dollars. I believe many of us agree, but no party is offering this plan because they’re forced to lure the voters who jump at any tax cuts, even when we “must” sacrifice insurance coverage so that the 1% can profit.
Do I like paying higher taxes? Hell no! But how much higher would the taxes need to be to fund single-payer? My insurance premiums are currently 1/2 my rent–after Obama’s modest reforms. If healthcare is a human right as Democrats keep claiming, then how do they keep getting the formula for it so very wrong?