Why King and Collins get it right

By Reade Brower | Nov 09, 2017

Most people are trying to figure out what our leaders have in mind with health and tax reform. Most agree that both systems need major reform, but few understand what is really happening.

Most politicians are standing behind ideology with little regard for the final product; instead of fixing health care, many want to tear it down, regardless of whether it leaves millions of Americans without health insurance.

The same seems true of tax reform; ideologies clashing without regard to what it means to us, the people.

Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins have taken a more deliberate approach; holding out for something that they can live with and that moves us forward.

Rather than dismantling what is, doesn’t it make sense to fix what we have? We usually don’t tear down a house, we repair it. When we demolish, we have a replacement situation set up before we tear it down. Same should hold true for health care and tax reform – fix it or replace it before you tear it down or watch it implode so you can say, “I told you so.”

This is not new to the Trump era; the Affordable Care Act was put into motion because the old system wasn’t working, with many uninsured. The issues it tried to solve were honorable, but it was rammed through by Democrats, frustrated or unwilling to get bipartisan buy-in. Now, it’s the Republicans' turn; though turnabout is fair play, we need grownups like King and Collins to stand up and say enough. Leave the rhetoric behind and move forward with legislation that has bipartisan support.

With health care, keep the framework easy. Everyone deserves access to affordable health care, we need to cut down paperwork and costs while finding a way to pay for it. If we can fund roads, police and schools, we can pay for health care through progressive taxes and creative subsidies. Sen. Bernie Sanders calls it Democratic Socialism; it is not communist and shouldn’t be confused with what happens in Cuba or Russia. It is the notion of lifting all people, and understanding that a rising tide raises all boats, not just those in higher waters.

Sarah Huckabee-Sanders (no relation to Bernie, I presume), Trump’s press secretary, has a polar-opposite view. She tells a story about 10 people drinking together and sharing the $100 tab, based on their incomes; when the bar owner decides to lower the bill to $80 because they are such good customers, the argument is that even though the richest person got the biggest dollar cut, it was a smaller percentage than the poorer people. While technically true, Huckabee-Sanders omits the parts that don’t fit her analogy. For one, where does the $20 reduction come from? Is the bar owner just forgoing it and making less profit? If so, he can’t invest in keeping his bar in good shape, can’t buy a new car every four years, and his business suffers. Or he makes it up on the rest of his customers, mostly middle-class patrons who visit his bar. The $20 has to come from somewhere; if it simply comes from borrowing the money, or living on less, it hurts his children, who will take over the business, and the debt.

The argument for reducing taxes on the wealthy selectively points to the top 1 percent paying 35 percent of our taxes, but fails to point out that the 1 percent control 90 percent of the wealth. Is it fair that they own 90 percent and pay just 35 percent of the tax base that protects their riches with police and firefighters, that educates the children they need for their workforce, and that builds roads and infrastructure that allow for commerce that makes them rich?

When the president and his disciples claim that all citizens will have their taxes cut, they fundamentally don’t deal with the reality that money does not grow on trees. Stimulating the economy will create some money, but the notion of trickle-down doesn’t work; trickle up is a better philosophy.

Thinking that a rich person will buy a nicer car if you give him a tax break is faulty. True and substantial tax breaks for the middle and lower classes will stimulate buying and commerce that will trickle up to the rich; those who make and sell the goods and services that fuel our economy and country.

If you believe most of what is written, tax reform as submitted presently will benefit the wealthy, while the middle class gets scraps, paid for, in part, by eliminating some of the biggest tax deductions of the middle class, like mortgage interest, which will stifle home ownership, a cornerstone of the American dream and a healthy economy.

Think twice, cut once.

“I have always supported measures and principles and not men. I have acted fearlessly and independent and I never will regret my course. I would rather be politically buried than to be hypocritically immortalized.”

--- Davy Crockett, frontiersman, soldier, politician (1786-1836)

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Nov 09, 2017 16:39

"Bruce Bartlett served as a senior policy analyst in Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration, and even helped President Reagan craft his much-ballyhooed tax cuts.

During an interview on BillMoyers.com, Michael Winship brought up to Bartlett, “Trump has said, “There’s no way that the middle class doesn’t greatly benefit’ from the proposed tax cuts.”


Bruce answered, bluntly, “Well, that’s just a lie… the middle class really isn’t going to get any kind of tax cut and in fact it’s going to get screwed in lots of ways. For example, he’s talked on many occasions about getting rid of the deduction for state and local taxes. He’s talked about reducing the ability of people to save in 401(k)s. These are tax increases, really, that are going to hurt the middle class.” He elaborated, “So what his economic advisers have done is come up with this ridiculous rationalization that workers will see a huge increase in their wages if we cut the corporate tax rate. The fact is that we have experience with this. We don’t need to look to some esoteric mathematical model to know what’s going to happen.” Bruce added, “You can very easily go to bls.gov, which is the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and look up real median wages and you can see what happened after the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which lowered the tax rate on corporations from 46 percent to 34 percent. And if you look at what happened to wages in the 10 years after 1986, wages fell. They did not go up. They fell. Workers were worse off.”

Winship followed by saying, “And yet there are Republicans who claim that these proposed cuts are in the fine tradition of Ronald Reagan.” Bartlett replied, “Well, that’s just a lie, too. And I know because I drafted the 1981 tax cut.” Later, Winship mentioned, “You wrote that you think the ultimate goal of the GOP is to create a deficit so large that Medicare and Medicaid can be decimated.” Bartlett confirmed this, saying, “That’s correct. The Republicans don’t advertise this, but in fact they all believe in a theory that I call ‘starve the beast,’ which says that the purpose of cutting taxes is to create a deficit which will then justify spending cuts. Under normal circumstances, you’re not going to be able to cut popular programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, but if the deficit gets really, really big, people may be frightened of it and be willing to accept as necessary spending cuts that would not otherwise be politically plausible.”
Read more: http://dieharddemocrat.com/2017/11/02/former-reagan-official-slams-trumps-tax-plan-says-will-help-super-rich-19965#ixzz4xOR7gRNz

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 09, 2017 10:30

"It is the notion of lifting all people, and understanding that a rising tide raises all boats, not just those in higher waters."

Right  on! We all benefit.

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