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The triumph of the American oligarchs

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

The Republican tax plan to be voted on this week is likely to pass.

"The American people have waited 31 long years to see our broken tax code overhauled," the leaders of the Koch brothers' political network insisted in a letter to members of Congress that urged swift approval. They added that the time has come to put "more money in the pockets of American families."

Please. The Koch network doesn't care a fig about the pockets of American families. It cares about the pockets of the Koch network. It has poured money into almost every state in an effort to convince Americans that the tax cut will be good for them. Yet most Americans don't believe it.

Polls show that only about a third of Americans favor the tax plan. The vast majority feel it's heavily skewed toward the rich and big businesses -- which it is.

In counties that Donald Trump won in 2016 but Barack Obama carried in 2012, only 17 percent expect to pay less in taxes if the tax plan becomes law, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another 25 percent expect that their family would actually pay more in taxes.

Most Americans know that the tax plan is payback for major Republican donors. Gary Cohn, Trump's lead economic adviser, even conceded in an interview that "the most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan."

 

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) admitted "my donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don't ever call me again.'" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned that if Republicans failed to pass the tax plan, "the financial contributions will stop."

By passing it, Republican donors will save billions -- paying a lower top tax rate, doubling the amount their heirs can receive tax-free, and treating themselves as "pass-through" businesses able to deduct 20 percent of their income (effectively allowing Trump to cut his tax rate in half, if and when he pays taxes).

They'll make billions more as their stock portfolios soar because corporate taxes are slashed.

The biggest winners by far will be American oligarchs such as the Koch brothers; Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor; Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune; and Carl Icahn, the activist investor.

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