Republicans in Washington insist that their new tax plan will benefit all Americans, but it’s no secret that it is especially good for some. The less affluent among us will see significantly smaller tax cuts that disappear after a few years. The more affluent see bigger tax cuts for longer, and corporations fare best of all with a dramatic and permanent drop in their tax rate.
But to understand just how disingenuous Republicans are when touting tax reform – and just how little they think of some Americans – you need to dig a little deeper into the bills the House and Senate have passed. There you’ll find small provisions, exemptions and carve-outs that show who Republicans have crafted this bill for – and who gets left out.
Take, for example, teachers. In the House bill, educators who have to buy supplies for their classrooms would no longer be able to deduct them on their tax forms. The Senate bill does not eliminate that deduction.
The House and Senate had no disagreement, however, on making expense rules much more generous for businesses. The tax plan makes it possible for businesses to fully expense new equipment for at least five years.
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Graduate students aren’t so lucky. Republicans want to count as taxable income the tuition waivers that graduate students receive for working as researchers and teaching assistants. That, along with provisions that eliminate student loan interest deductions, will put graduate school financially out of reach for many.
But if you’re wealthy enough to afford a private school education for your children? Republicans are here for you. The tax plan would allow parents to save money tax-free for K-12 private school tuition, as well as expenses associated with home schooling.
Senate Republicans even tried to pass a tax break that could be applied only to small Hillsdale College in Michigan, which has ties to people in the Trump administration. The Senate struck the provision after it was discovered, but there’s still some wrangling to come over which affluent private schools might get to avoid paying a tax on investment income.
Republicans also all but eliminated the estate tax for America’s wealthier households, yet managed to fight off efforts to slightly expand a tax credit for low-income families with children. All of which contributes to most every analysis, including the non-partisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, showing that the tax plan is essentially a transfer of wealth to the rich.
Republicans say that will lead to job growth, although history shows tax cuts don’t prompt job creators to create more jobs. But Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa hinted at something else in an unfortunate moment of candor over the weekend. Speaking about the estate tax, he told the Des Moines Register: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing. As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
In other words, Republicans don’t think very highly of everyday Americans. Neither does their tax plan.