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What's in the tax reform bill for Johnny Lunchbucket?

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- Poor Johnny Lunchbucket. He's been had.

President Trump promised to look out for the forgotten man and to fix a "rigged" tax system. Now he and congressional Republicans have proposed a tax cut that makes the rich richer and shifts the burden onto the working class.

The numbers don't lie, but if you need more evidence? Consider this: Billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Todd Ricketts and Charles and David Koch are paying tens of millions of dollars to persuade working-class Americans to support a tax bill that would net these billionaires even more billions. In a cynical twist, they're not even arguing, primarily, about trickle-down or rising-tide economics. These plutocratic populists are actually claiming the tax cuts would go to the middle class.

"What's in it for you?" asks a new ad, reportedly backed by $10 million, from the "45 Committee," founded by Adelson and Ricketts.

"The Republican tax cut saves middle class families more than $1,200 a year, according to independent analysis. The first $24,000 of your income would be tax free," the announcer says, over images of a factory floor. "It will simplify your taxes and close loopholes so everybody pays their fair share. More money in your pocket. A stronger economy. That's what's in it for you."

Then there's the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity ad in which a young woman speaks earnestly. "The powerful, the well-connected, the politicians -- they'll stop benefiting from a rigged system," says this ad, paid for by the powerful and well-connected.

"It means everyday Americans will have more to spend on what's important to them."

Finally, we have American Action Network. It doesn't disclose donors but big oil and big pharma acknowledge contributing.

Says a mom from her kitchen: "A simpler, fairer tax code with tax cuts for working families will give us some peace of mind, and closing loopholes means everyone pays their fair share."

Fair? The proposal cuts corporate taxes by $1 trillion, gives $200 billion to the richest Americans in the form of estate-tax repeal, and tilts the other $300 billion in cuts in favor of the wealthy. And that doesn't take into account the hit the working class would take eventually from reduced benefits -- health care, education and the like -- to pay for the up to $1.5 trillion the legislation would add in debt over a decade.

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