Opinion by Robert Reich
(BERKELEY, CA.) -- Selling the
Trump-Republican tax plan should
be awkward for an administration that has made patriotism its central
That’s because patriotism isn’t mostly about saluting the flag
during the national anthem.
It’s about taking a fair share of the burden of keeping
But the tax plan gives American corporations a $2 trillion tax
break, at a
time when they’re enjoying
record profits and stashing unprecedented
amounts of cash in offshore tax shelters.
And it gives America’s wealthiest citizens trillions more,
when the richest
1 percent now hold a record 38.6
percent of the nation’s total wealth, up from 33.7
percent a decade ago.
The reason Republicans give for enacting the plan is
trickle-down nonsense. The real reason is payback to the GOP’s
A few Republicans are starting to admit this. Last week, Gary
lead economic advisor, conceded
in an interview that “the most excited group out there are
big CEOs, about
our tax plan.”
Republican Rep. Chris Collins admitted
that “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that
if Republicans failed to pass tax reform, “the financial
Investing in politicians = tax cut payback
Republican mega-donors view the tax payback as they do any
When they bankrolled Trump and the GOP, they expected a good return.
The biggest likely beneficiaries are busily investing an
million to pressure specific members of Congress to pass it, according
Wall Street Journal.
They include the 45Committee, founded by billionaire casino
Adelson and Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs; and the
groups, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners.
They’re not doing this out of love of America. They’re doing
it out of love
How do you think they got so wealthy in the first
If you've got the money, you can make
government do your bidding
As more of the nation’s wealth has shifted to the top over the
decades, major recipients have poured some of it into politics – buying
themselves tax cuts, special subsidies, bailouts, lenient antitrust
enforcement, favorable bankruptcy rules, extended intellectual property
and other laws that add to their wealth.
All of which have given them more clout to get additional
legal changes that
enlarge their wealth even more.
Forty years ago, the estate tax was paid by 139,000 estates, according
to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. By 2000, it was paid
by 52,000. This
year it will be paid by just 5,500 estates.
Under the House tax plan, it will be eliminated altogether.
Why do Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the
citizens of every
other advanced economy? Because Big Pharma has altered the laws in its
Why do we pay more for internet service than most other
nations? Big cable’s
political clout. Why can payday lenders get away with payday robbery?
political heft of big banks.
Multiply these examples across the economy and you get a huge
redistribution from the paychecks of average working people and the
poor to top
executives and investors. (I explain this in detail in the documentary
Capitalism,” airing next week on Netflix.)
All this is terrible for the American economy.
More and better jobs depend on increasing demand for goods and
This must come from the middle class and poor because the rich spend a
smaller share of their after-tax income.
Yet the middle class and poor have steadily lost purchasing
power. Partly as
a result, a relatively low share of the nation’s working-age population
employed today and the wages of the typical worker have been stuck in
The Republican tax plan will make all this worse by burdening
class and the poor even more.
A slew of analyses,
including Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, show that the GOP
will raise taxes on many middle-class families.
It will also require cuts in government programs that middle
lower-income Americans depend on, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
And the plan will almost certainly explode the national debt,
causing many middle class and poor families to pay higher interest on
auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards.
I don’t care whether the top executives of big corporations,
moguls, and heirs to vast fortunes salute the flag and stand for the
But they enjoy all the advantages of being American. Most
couldn’t have got
to where they are in any other country.
They have a patriotic duty to take on a fair share of the
burden of keeping
America going. And Trump and his enablers in Congress have a patriotic
responsibility to make them.
ROBERT B. REICH is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum
He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration
magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of
Mr. Reich has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock,
The Work of Nations, Beyond Outrage and most recently Saving
also a founding editor of The American
Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the
Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning
INEQUALITY FOR ALL.