Who wins and who loses in the Republican-sponsored tax-reform proposals depends on who you choose to believe.
On the one hand, opponents of the GOP schemes say either proposal spikes the federal debt by about $1.7 trillion over the next decade, and hurts low-income Americans who most need some help.
On the other hand, GOP strategists insist it gives middle-class Americans more cash in their pockets, and provides businesses incentive to expand, thus creating more jobs.
Like most ideas coming out of Washington in recent years, the facts are elusive, in part because both sides are spinning like crazy.
However, one thing is fairly clear — the nation’s wealthiest citizens definitely get tax relief, and once again it seems Republicans value corporations far more than the average citizen.
President Trump has been a tireless proponent of tax reform, in part because it was among his campaign promises. There is, perhaps, another reason for the president’s zeal to have a tax-reform bill on his desk before Christmas — it could mean big savings for Trump family members and family businesses.
Trump has said his financial situation would “get killed” in any form of the GOP proposals. But the truth seems to be somewhat different.
Say, for example, the House version of the legislation makes it through the Senate — which it will not — and the president signs it into law. Based on analyses of Trump’s past tax returns, he and his family could save more than $1.1 billion on their tax obligations. That doesn’t seem like getting “killed” to us.
The caveat to such claims is that the analyses were done at the behest of NBC News, which the president has attacked numerous times as purveyors of “fake news,” and even suggested regulators should consider pulling NBC’s license to broadcast.
If this sounds a bit like a plot line for a John Grisham novel, you’re probably onto something.
The NBC-financed analyses reckon Trump alone would save $20 million on his annual taxes — which could be quite an inducement, because in just the past few days financial experts have revealed that Trump’s true net worth may be only a fraction of what the president has claimed, due primarily to business losses and failures.
Beginning to see why so many people want presidents to make public their tax returns? Not doing so suggests a person may have something he or she wishes not to be made public.
Be that as it may, Trump and the Trump family’s financial ups and downs aren’t the real point of tax reform, at least not for the millions of Americans who may be helped or harmed by changes in tax laws.
Another problem is that neither tax-cut proposal, House or Senate, has been fully explained. As usual, Congress spends years wasting time on partisan bickering, then decides to accomplish a major overhaul of America’s tax structure in a few weeks. Even many Republicans in Congress say they have no idea what either the House or Senate version of the legislation would do, and to whom it would be done.
Trump is scrambling because he needs a policy win. He’s been in office since mid-January, and despite his claims of “huge” successes, his administration is more or less running in place — perhaps because Trump’s inner circle of advisors is in constant turmoil.
The damage is self-inflicted. Trump officials can say something at 9 a.m., and by noon whatever they said has been trumped by Trump.
None of this is doing Americans’ confidence in their leadership any favors.