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Trump's tax on social justice

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

WASHINGTON -- Add this to the growing file folder that can be labeled "Depressing but not Surprising": The only thing today's Republican Party knows how to do is cut taxes for the very rich.

It's depressing because the GOP has abandoned roles it once played in our public life: pioneering programs aimed at assisting Americans of modest means in lifting themselves up; and supporting productive government investments that the private sector was unlikely to undertake.

The party of Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell has abandoned the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, who championed the Homestead Act and land-grant colleges; Teddy Roosevelt, who protected vast tracts of nature on behalf of future generations; and Dwight Eisenhower, who pushed for student loans and the Interstate Highway System.

The heirs to Honest Abe, TR and Ike seem to believe in only one thing: throwing vast quantities of money at the already wealthy. And they have the nerve to pretend that they aren't really trying to further enrich the moneyed classes. They claim that comforting the comfortable will someday, really and truly, help working people by creating jobs and economic growth.

They pretend a lot of other things, too. They say their goal is to "simplify" the tax system, so they reduce the number of individual income tax brackets to three. Isn't it funny that in their "simplification" the tax rate for the richest among us (people earning over $418,400 a year) drops from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, but the tax rate for the poorest (those earning less than $9,325 a year) actually goes up, from 10 percent to 12 percent?

The GOP apparently believes that taxing the poor is part of the recipe for growth. Now there is an innovative idea.

The Republicans claim that this tax increase will be offset by other provisions. But there is no way to know exactly how their tax scheme would work because they have still not put out a full plan. All they have offered is a sketch.

For eight months, Republicans told us repeatedly that they would enact a tax bill. Yet, they still can't show us the whole thing.

In fact, for a large swath of the middle and upper-middle class, this is not a tax cut at all, but a tax increase. Using the details available, the Tax Policy Center concluded that nearly a third of taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see their taxes go up, as would a majority of those making between $150,000 and $300,000.

There is much that is very bad here, but perhaps the most insidious aspect of the bill is the part that might be called the Punish Our Opponents Tax Act of 2017.

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