The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.
Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.
Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.
With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.
The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.
This bill is what Republicans wanted for years, if not decades. Not just changes to benefit their donors, but social changes in ways that have little to do with tax policy (i.e. gifts to the religious right). It hopes to undo the social safety net in FDR’s programs. For instance, it could trigger rules mandating cuts to Medicare, the government health care program for seniors, the Congressional Budget Office warned. Some 13 million people could lose health care via the elimination of a key plank of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.
I think this has to do with Trump, who the Republican elites are tolerating only because they had hoped that they could push this agenda through. Many of them might think (with good reason) that Trump’s days are numbered, and so they are trying to do a ‘Hail Mary’, squeeze a 4 to 8 year agenda into one bill. Never mind that (as we just learned seconds ago) it will increase the deficit by $1 trillion dollars (that’s for future generations to worry about).And they might pull it off.