Finance

Ex-Obama Treasury secretary: Tax cuts ‘leaving us broke’

Cameron Lancaster

Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew expressed concerns about the new GOP tax law’s impact on the debt, arguing that it is “leaving us broke” and could lead to cuts in social safety net programs.

“I fear that the next shoe to drop is going to be an attack on the most vulnerable in our society,” Lew said in a Bloomberg interview. “How are we going to pay for the deficit caused by the tax cut? You’re going to see proposals to cut health insurance from poor people, to take basic food support away from poor people, to attack Medicare and Social Security.”

“One could not have made up a more cynical strategy,” he added.

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Lew, who led the Treasury Department during former President Obama’s second term, said that the U.S. is in need of more jobs training, education and infrastructure, rather than more debt at a time when the economy doesn’t need a fiscal stimulus.

“What we’ve seen is a tax cut that spends money we don’t have, to have very concentrated benefits for global corporations and the top 1 percent, and it’s leaving us broke so that we cannot deal with these fundamental problems,” he said.

President Trump late last month signed into law a Republican tax bill that lowers rates for individuals and corporations. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates that the measure will add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years before accounting for economic growth and about $1.1 trillion to the deficit after growth is factored in.

But Republicans have largely brushed off concerns about the tax law’s impact on the debt, viewing JCT’s growth estimates as conservative. They’ve predicted that economic growth will ultimately result in the tax cuts paying for themselves.

GOP lawmakers are weighing a push for welfare changes next year in an effort to cut the debt. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been pushing for entitlement reform, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seems reluctant to focus on the topic unless legislation could get bipartisan support.

Tags Donald Trump Entitlement reform Jack Lew Mitch McConnell national debt Paul Ryan Tax reform
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