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Welcome to the new gilded age

Dana Milbank on

"Will a teacher in my district who buys pens, pencils and paper for his students be able to deduct these costs from his tax returns under this plan?" He will not.

"Will a corporation that buys pens, pencils and papers for its workers be able to deduct those costs from its tax returns?" It will.

"Will a firefighter in my district be able to deduct the state and local sales taxes that she pays from her tax return?" She will not.

"Will a corporation be able to deduct sales taxes on business purchases?" It will.

As the corporate welfare is doled out, the same bill widens the gap between the rich and everybody else. The liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy concluded that the middle fifth of Americans would get a modest tax cut of $750 (1.4 percent of their income) in 2018, while the richest 1 percent would have a cut of $48,580 (2.4 percent of their income). Even the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, using a more favorable methodology, acknowledges the plan would cost the federal government $989 billion over a decade.

Outnumbered Democrats can't do anything but yammer. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., denounced the "wrongheaded, cruel, heartless" bill, which eliminates tax deductions that would have gone to those who lost their homes in fires. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., has plans to introduce an amendment adding "fiscally conservative Republicans" to the endangered-species list.

Corporations have had their way with Washington before. In 2004, Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., caused an uproar when he quit Congress to become the top drug-industry lobbyist right after he helped to write and pass the Medicare prescription-drug expansion. He earned harsh denunciations as a symbol of Washington's revolving door.

 

What's different now is the reaction. Tiberi continues to help shepherd the corporate tax bill even after naming his corporate employer -- and he is applauded. Five hours into Monday's hearing, Democrats and Republicans alike on the panel gave Tiberi a standing ovation when he noted his upcoming retirement and thanked colleagues for their friendship. The panel's top Democrat, Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., congratulated him on "your next endeavor."

Good for Tiberi that he has admiring colleagues. If only those financing his next endeavor didn't benefit so handsomely from his current one.

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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