After Republicans slashed taxes for corporations and the wealthy at the end of last year while blowing up the deficit, there was little sign of the economic miracle that we were promised would occur as a result of the policy. So few if any serious voters or political observers have been clamoring for more tax cuts for the wealthy.
But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the New York Times the Monday that the administration is actually considering another massive change to the tax code that would largely benefit the rich — and this time they're considering going around Congress to get it done.
The cut would affect capital gains taxes, which would only matter to people who are wealthy enough to have substantial investments. According to the Times, the proposal would give away $100 billion in reduced taxes by adjusting the formula that calculates the amount of the investment income.
“If it can’t get done through a legislation process, we will look at what tools at Treasury we have to do it on our own and we’ll consider that,” Mnuchin told the Times.
It's not clear whether the Treasury could make the cuts on its own without the adjustments being approved by Congress, and the Times notes that any attempt by the administration to act unilaterally would likely face a court challenge.
But in addition to any technical questions about executive authority and the role of Congress in writing the tax code, it defies reason that Republicans would actually consider another tax cut for the rich — especially ahead of midterm elections with favorable conditions for Democrats. Wage growth and business investment have been meager following the GOP tax bill, despite the president's promises, and most Americans have failed to see any benefit from the new tax rates.
It seems even Republicans know this, too, because they're not running their 2018 campaigns on the popularity of the tax bill. They know that their voters aren't impressed by the bill, so they're planning instead to double down on the culture war to motivate their base ahead of the elections. Despite the unpopularity of the first round of cuts, Republicans are staying true to that old adage: Try, try again.
Like bank robbers hearing police sirens, the GOP is scrambling to scrounge up as much in tax cuts and corporate giveaways as they can before voters take to the polls — a wild dash to repay their donors and cash in themselves while they still can.
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