News & Politics

Paul Krugman Has a More Accurate Name for Trump's Obscene Tax Plan

What better way to honor the GOP's nakedly plutocratic agenda?

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While Republicans dodge questions about Senate candidate Roy Moore's alleged molestation of a teenage girl, smirking all the while, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are barrelling ahead with the party's plutocratic agenda. Not only does the GOP's latest tax proposal benefit a handful of families that are already rolling in dough, it could end up costing millions of middle-income Americans as much as 250 percent more by the time it's fully implemented in 2027.

Donald Trump briefly flirted with calling the bill the "Cut Cut Cut Act," but the New York Times' Paul Krugman has a far more accurate suggestion: The Leona Helmsley Act, named for the New York hotelier "who famously declared that 'only little people pay taxes.'"(Helmsley ended up serving 19 months of a 16-year conviction for federal income tax evasion.)

In his Friday column, Krugman looks at four types of taxpayers across the economic spectrum, almost all of whom would be adversely affected by the Republican plan. Families with two children and a household income of $59,000 might get some immediate relief in year one of the Helmsley Act, but those credits would eventually expire or be rendered insignificant by inflation.

Further up the ladder, lawyers, doctors and other well-heeled professionals making between $200,000 and $500,000 per year would save a few hundred dollars annually, but only if you ignore deductions. Once they're taken into account, this group is likely to pay more in taxes than it was before.

Small business owners? The only ones who really stand to gain are the rich, beneficiaries of a 25 percent rate for "passive" income recipients. Which brings us to the real winners of the GOP's tax proposal: the Trumps and others like them. With the estate tax phased out, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr. will receive their ample inheritances without having to pay a dime to the federal government. They'll also enjoy a massive windfall from corporate tax cuts, which will increase the value of their respective portfolios.

"So when Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, says that the bill’s goal is 'to deliver middle-class tax cuts to the hard-working families in this country,' he’s claiming that up is down and black is white," Krugman writes. "This bill does little or nothing for the middle class, and even among the affluent it’s biased against those who work hard in favor of the idle rich."

Krugman also eagerly reminds his readers that the Trump plan will add $1.7 trillion to the deficit, which will almost assuredly lead to further cuts to essential social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. So much for the GOP being the party of fiscal responsibility.

"You might wonder how Republicans imagine that they can get away with this. But anyone who has paid attention to U.S. politics knows the answer," he continues. "First, they will lie, unashamedly, about what their bill actually does. Second, they will try to distract working-class voters by stoking racial animosity."

It's what they do best. Just look at who's sitting in the Oval Office.

Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.

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Jacob Sugarman is the acting managing editor at Truthdig.