While it looks very much like a Republican tax reform plan that robs the poor to line the pockets of the wealthy will be passed by Congress and sent to President Trump for his signature, it's only the first hit the average American is going to take as a result.
House-Senate negotiators will be working in the coming days to reach agreement on their differing bills, and the only question is how great will the end product be for the corporations and upper income individuals and to what extent will the rest of us pay the tab.
The day after the Senate passed its bill, Trump said he might support increasing the ultimate corporate tax from the 20 percent in both House and Senate versions to 22 percent, a statement that is sure to rankle many who voted for that legislation. That would raise $200 billion, which could reduce the $1 trillion-plus hit on the deficit that is currently estimated -- unless they use the money to lower the top rate for the wealthy.
The heart of the Republican effort is their claim that by slashing taxes on businesses more money will be returned to the economy and benefit the average person through improved job security and wages. But that trickle down theory has never worked, and now even business executives themselves say they'll use the money to improve dividends, pay down debt, buy back stock and pursue mergers and acquisitions. How does that benefit middle America?
But worse, if you listen to some of the most influential GOP lawmakers, there is reason to shudder because Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit the average American and those less fortunate are in their crosshairs.
“We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future,” Rubio said at a conference last week. Rubio's talk of structural change is vague, but will likely include changing the rate and age of Social Security and Medicare payouts.
And, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the other day, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.” That came during a hearing about funding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
So, in their view, Social Security, Medicare and social programs cannot add to the deficit, but tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are just fine.
Make no mistake; the Republican war on the middle class is just getting started.