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The huge tax heist

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

You know the plot: The bank robbers set off a bomb down the street from the bank, and while everyone's distracted, they get away with the loot.

In the reality TV show we're now suffering through, Donald Trump is the bomb.

The robbers are the American oligarchs who bankroll the Republican Party, and who are plotting the biggest heist in American history -- a massive tax cut estimated to be worth up to $5.8 trillion.

Around 80 percent of it will benefit the richest 1 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Trump is busily distracting America with his explosive tweets and incendiary tantrums -- blasting Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, NFL players who take the knee, Dreamers, refugees, immigrants, transgender people, the media, "rocket man," Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, NAFTA, Muslims.

The Trump bomb is hugely damaging -- unleashing hate, threatening democratic institutions, isolating America in the world. But none of this seems to bother Republicans in Congress, except for a handful of senators who won't be running again. That's because congressional Republicans are concentrating their efforts on pulling off the giant heist for their rich patrons.

They want to move quickly so no one notices -- passing the tax cut before Christmas, with no hearings and minimal debate.

If the plot succeeds, most Americans will be robbed in three ways.

First, they'll lose tax deductions they rely on -- such as the deduction on earnings they put into tax-deferred savings in 401(k) plans. Some 55 million Americans now rely on 401(k) plans to save for retirement.

They'll also lose the deduction for what they pay in state and local taxes. More than half of this deduction now goes to taxpayers with incomes of less than $200,000.

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