Friday, November 17, 2017

So What Do You Really Think of the Tax Bill?

I wrote a great post about the Republican tax bill in my head last night, around 3:00 a.m. By the time I got up, though, it had fled, and now has completely evaporated from my synapses.

Even so, here are a few things I know about the tax bill.

It taxes graduate students on their tuition benefit. That means their "incomes" will increase from amounts like $15,000 to $30,000 to amounts like $60,000+, and they'll pay taxes on that with no additional income to cover it. Because... get this... tuition is not income. The new law would also apply to employees of private primary or secondary schools and all higher education institutions if they get a tuition benefit for their dependents. That means instant increases in their "incomes" for the tuition they are not paying for their kids or spouses. (I've heard the argument made that employees of non-education companies have to pay taxes if their employers pay for them to attend college classes, so it's only fair to charge grad students. No. The thing to do in that case is not penalize people in any these circumstances for getting more education.) How many people do you know who (or whose kids) went to college because of a parental benefit like this? I know a lot. One writer in particular I can think of is Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was able to afford Howard University because his dad worked there.

It allows a tax break if you own a private airplane, but kills the current deduction for electric vehicles.

It gets rid of the deduction for student loan interest payments.

It cuts Medicare and Social Security in ways that have barely been mentioned.

It gets rid of the individual mandate for health coverage under the ACA, which will raise health insurance rates on millions and millions of people.

It has no score from the Congressional Budget Office, but appears to increase taxes on lots of people who make under $100,000, but gives big breaks to people who make more than that, and especially people who make a lot more than that.

It extends "personhood" to fetuses and uses the term "unborn" to describe the fetuses, which is not a medical or legal term, but a political one.

It increases the deficit. It's premised on the belief that cutting taxes on corporations and millionaires creates jobs and grows the economy, which we know was not supported by reality when it was tried multiple times in the past. Trickle-down is a con-job.

It removes deductions for state income taxes and property taxes, which is geared to hurting people in blue-states. It also messes with tax incentives for building affordable housing.

It gets rid of our already-not-strong enough estate tax. That gives almost inconceivable bonuses to the families of ultra-wealthy donors who have paid millions to elect members of Congress and the president:

That's some return on investment, hey? Notice that the Trump family isn't listed there, though they could be.

Oh, and the final kicker: Congress has held no hearings on it. The House passed it in the middle of the night, which is always a good sign.

Let's see if the Senate can kill this heap of atrocious ideas and rotten pork.


So far I've already realized I forgot the elimination of the medical deduction exemption, teachers' ability to deduct classroom expenses, and the independent funding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau... Here's a new Vox explainer on some of the damned details. 

More items I missed: it also repeals the Johnson Amendment, which keeps churches and nonprofits from partisan advocacy.

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