Congressman Glenn Thompson was correct about one thing in his recent op-ed praising the latest Republican Party tax plan: “The deck seems stacked against too many of us. We work hard, play by the rules, and still can’t get ahead. We deserve better.”
I agree: since the late 1970’s, including the devastating effects of the Great Recession, the bottom 99 percent of Pennsylvanians have seen their real wages increase by only 11 percent. Today, an estimated 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, while the wealthy are doing better than ever: the top 1 percent of Americans now hold 38.6% of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 90% are left with only 22.8%.
As in the past, Thompson and the Republican Party claim that the solution to this long-running problem is an “overhaul” of the tax code, one that is, according to one Republican leader, “designed for the middle-class family that’s working so hard, the Main Street family that’s working so hard.”
The only problem is that we have seen these claims before, and they have always proven to be just empty rhetoric meant to disguise the true agenda of the Republican Party: to lower taxes on the wealthy and large corporations while the American education system, families, and our children are forced to carry the burden. Fifth District constituents agree: two groups recently protested outside of Thompson’s Titusville Office calling claims that this plan would help the middle class “an outright lie.” Thompson’s office, unsurprisingly, would not comment.
According to an analysis of the plan released by the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, by 2027 45% of the bill’s tax cuts would go to households with incomes over $500,000, with a whopping 38 percent of the cuts going solely to households with incomes over $1,000,000. Republicans claim that cutting the corporate rate will create jobs, but corporations already pay on average below 20 percent, and many even receive subsidies: from 2008 to 2015, AT&T, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Verizon, and IBM together received more than $130 billion in tax subsidies. Republicans claim that small businesses will pay lower rates by organizing as “pass-through” entities, but the truth is that only the largest of these entities, including the Trump Organization, will gain from this change.
Thompson also supports the bill’s provision that would allow companies to bring back overseas profits at a lower rate. Offshore tax havens are indeed a problem: Fortune 500 companies are holding more than $2.6 trillion in profits offshore. Apple alone has $246 billion stored offshore, avoiding an estimated $76.7 billion in U.S. taxes. But every time we have tried this in the past, instead of investing in the economy, corporations have only used this money to benefit their executives and shareholders. And every time corporations said they wouldn’t do it again, they did it again, and waited for the Republican party to cut them another deal.
New York Republican Representative Chris Collins summed up the purpose of the bill best when he said “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.”
While the bill meets the demands of Republican donors, it does little or nothing for middle-class families, and will even raise taxes on many hardworking Americans. Although it doubles the standard deduction and expands the child tax credit, it also does things like limit the deduction for medical expenses and eliminate the personal exemption. As a result, about half of all middle-class families, those with incomes between $50,000 and $160,000, would pay more taxes by 2026. Other provisions, such as the elimination of the student-loan interest deduction and the deduction teachers are able to take for school supplies, would make education for working families even more unaffordable.
Even if all of this were ignored, the plan as is still increases the budget deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Glenn Thompson has been campaigning for years on lowering the deficit, but apparently none of that matters as long as he is able to line the pockets of the wealthy.
I am running for Congress to end this cycle of deceit and betrayal. It is unacceptable that in the wealthiest nation in the world, the wages of average Americans are allowed to remain stagnant while our representatives in Congress fight tooth and nail to make the wealthy wealthier. It is unacceptable that while we consider making it harder for students to pay off their student loans, we reward corporations storing profits overseas with lower tax rates and an implicit understanding that Washington D.C. will have their backs again next time. A budget is a moral document, and this proposal makes clear that Republicans in Congress are acting immorally. I am going to Washington D.C. to give working Americans the voice they not only need, but deserve.