Tax cuts vs deficits

Are you enjoying the extra $4,000 the 2017 tax cut brought every American family?

Okay, that’s a snide Democratic slam at inflated Republican promises, but I think it’s justified before this election. While the government claims wages have increased mightily, some sources point out that inflation has also.  So Wall Street Journal headlines shout that workers have gotten the biggest pay raise in nearly a decade while Forbes and the New York Times ponder why wage gains remain slow in spite of low unemployment.

And about that tax cut paying for itself?

The deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 was $779 billion, the largest since 2012 when the government was pouring money into infrastructure to create jobs and end the recession.

Deficits don’t usually  grow in times of low unemployment.  According to the L.A. Times, the last time unemployment was this low–during the final years of the Clinton presidency–the U.S. had a budget surplus.

In a recent Reuters interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed “entitlements”–Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid–as “drivers of the debt” and called for them to be adjusted.

He followed that up by promising Republicans would kill the Affordable Care Act if they had the votes after the midterms.

Pundits are considering whether he thought attacking healthcare would get more Republicans out to vote or encourage donors to invest in Republican campaigns.

Only a few have pointed out he was wrong.

We’ve gotten so used to attacks on entitlements that we forget they’re about 10 percent of the budget. And, according to NPR, total government spending grew at a slower rate than the economy last year–even with all the extra security costs for Trump family jaunts.  .

But spending didn’t grow enough slower to keep a 31 percent drop in corporate tax revenues from boosting the deficit.

Some say it takes four years or so for a tax cut to pay for itself.  The truth is, no Republican cut has ever paid for itself–and John Kennedy’s cut was tied to job-creating projects.

Ironically, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 10 years from now our government will be paying more in interest than in Social Security.  That’s right–we’ll be paying more to billionaires and countries that loan to us–plus some domestic bond holders–than to 44 million retired workers.

Various polls have shown that Americans trust Democrats more when it comes to healthcare and Republicans more when it comes to the budget. The two issues, however, are intertwined.

Republicans plan to cut healthcare programs and subsidies to pay for a tax cut so unpopular with Americans that some federal tax increases got wider public support (Tax Policy Center).

Although some Republicans are in denial about their party planning healthcare cuts, the evidence is pretty clear.  In 2017 both houses of Congress passed resolutions calling for such cuts.. In June of this year the House of Representatives passed a budget plan cutting $537 billion from Medicare and $1.5 trillion in Medicaid and other health programs over the next decade. It included no future spending for the Affordable Care Act.

Now Senator McConnell has pledged that a Republican Senate will follow suit.

Hundreds of Idahoans are fighting for Proposition Two to see that working poor can have health insurance. Yet, Republicans in our legislature could easily overturn the votes of a majority.  And Republicans in our Congress can end the funding that presently makes Medicaid possible.

There’s a lot at stake in this November’s election.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018

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