Andrew Pallotta: The Republican Tax Scam

Nov 28, 2017

As I record this commentary, the final version – and ultimate fate -- of the Republicans’ tax bill has not been decided.

The line-by-line details must still be ironed out.  Members of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have not agreed to the nitty-gritty changes in the tax code.  

Yet, a broad outline of Republican plan is coming into focus.  And, it’s not a pretty picture for middle-class New Yorkers, the elderly and public education.

Here’s just a brief snapshot of what experts are saying:

The Republican plan represents a giant re-distribution of wealth.  It cuts taxes for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans – the millionaires and billionaires who are already rigging the system against working people – and asks us to pay for it.

Most of the benefits of the tax cut go to households with incomes above $500,000, while estimates show that taxes would actually increase for filers with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 over the life of the bill.

At the same time, it raises taxes on many middle-class families, while slashing funding for Medicare, Medicaid and public education.  And, the Senate version would cost 13 million Americans their health insurance by cutting the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. 

Depending on where you live in the W-A-M-C listening area, you may very well see your federal taxes go up by thousands of dollars.  One teacher I spoke with in the Hudson Valley says she expects to pay about $6,000 more in federal taxes as a result of the Republican bill – all so the richest Americans and big corporations get a tax cut.

Rubbing salt in the wound is, well, the possible elimination of the SALT deduction.

SALT stands for the state and local tax deduction.  It enables the average working family in New York to save thousands of dollars in federal taxes.

Eliminating the SALT deduction would have devastating consequences for middle-class families, local schools and property values.  One estimate is that taking away the SALT deduction could cost New York State $37 billion in funding and 24,600 education jobs over the next decade.

Some Republican members of Congress in New York recognize the harm this bill would do to their constituents and their state, and – at least at this point – say they are bucking their party and voting No.

However, at least three Republicans from New York – Tom Reed, John Katko and Chris Collins – are selling out their constituents to pay for this massive tax giveaway to rich – and to appease their big donors, something Congressman Collins recently admitted.

Collins told reporters, “My donors are saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.”

I don’t understand this thinking at all.

Why would a Republican member of Congress vote to hurt their own state, and to stick the average working man and woman in their district with a tax increase just to benefit the rich?

And, that leads to another question:

Will voters remember it come next November?

Andy Pallotta, a former elementary teacher, is president of the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.