Americans won't accept tax cuts for the wealthy

This week, while Republicans in the Senate take one last shot at scratching their seven-year itch to take health care away from 30 million Americans, the ‘Gang of Six’ is expected to (at long last) share their tax framework. Why are Republicans so fixated on ramming through the disastrous Graham-Cassidy bill? It’s a critical component of their scheme to take the billions in savings from kicking millions off their insurance and use it to give the top one percent of earners even more tax breaks. 

Led by millionaire and former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, and foreclosure-expert Steve Mnuchin, the ‘Gang of Six’ has teased a ‘plan’ that will focus on slashing taxes for corporations and ultra-rich. Mnuchin has been a particularly vocal surrogate for the GOP tax agenda. In between taxpayer-funded jaunts to view the solar eclipse, he’s delivered public speeches in favor of repealing the estate tax; a proposal that would put an average of $20 million in the hands of each of the nation’s 344 richest families. Yes, that’s $20 million each.

ADVERTISEMENT

He’s also made multiple cable news appearances calling for even more tax breaks for corporations that already pay an effective tax rate on par with many of our industrialized neighbors, when they even pay taxes at all. A study from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy found that of the consistently profitable corporations in the Fortune 500, 18 major corporations paid nothing in taxes every year from 2008-2015. Not one penny.

General Electric, a corporation worth more than $200 billion, paid no taxes over a full eight-year period. That’s a big victory for G.E. accountants and shareholders. But it paints a grim picture for small businesses already struggling to survive in an environment where multinational corporations don’t pay their fair share. Now Mnuchin and Cohn want to give wealthy corporations an even bigger leg up than they already have.

It’s no wonder big business groups have opened their wallets to ram this partisan and ill-conceived agenda through Congress. These groups roll out weekly ads with normal-seeming Americans calling for a ‘simpler, fairer tax code’. What those ads don’t tell you is that about 50 percent of the tax breaks in the most recent Trump administration proposal would go to millionaires.

Fortunately, the American people aren’t taking these tax plans lying down. Nearly 200,000 Americans have signed the ‘Not One Penny’ pledge to demand that not one penny in tax breaks go to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.

Most Americans are also decidedly against the core tenants of the Republican tax cut agenda. Sixty-three percent believe corporations should pay more in taxes to reduce income inequality, and 78 percent are bothered by the fact that the wealthy don’t pay their fair share. A full 69 percent believe that protecting public programs like Medicare, Social Security and education funding are more important than across the board tax breaks.

Americans are sick and tired of rules written by and for the wealthy. They’re even more sick and tired of Republicans pretending that these disastrous policies will help hard working Americans make ends meet.

People have wizened up to the voodoo economics Republicans use to sell special giveaways to big donors like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson. They’re unfortunately still in the dark about the specific gifts Republicans will include in their proposal.  

Outside of the well-heeled cadre President Trump has assembled to draft his tax plan, no one knows for certain what will be in the outline’ the ‘Gang of Six’ will release later this week. That tends to happen when tax policy is re-written by Wall Street insiders who plot their agenda far away from the public eye.

We do know that they will call for billions of dollars in giveaways to billionaires. We know that their plan will give corporations even more tools to offshore jobs and crush small businesses. We also know that they’ll try to spin their breaks for the wealthy as a blueprint for sustained economic growth.

What Steve Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and their corporate backers should know is that the public will not accept one penny in tax cuts for the wealthy and that the American people are ready to stand against their enormous giveaways to the well-connected.

Nicole Gill is the executive director of Tax March.