Income and wealth inequality in the United States is greater than in any other advanced country, with productivity gains over the last four decades having gone almost entirely to those at the top. The three richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the population — more than 160 million people.
Meanwhile, working people are struggling to remain in the middle class as wages stagnate and the costs of health care, education and other expenses rise.
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The Republican tax legislation, according to nonpartisan analyses, mainly benefits corporations and the wealthy, including big Republican donors, wealthy members of Congress and the Trump family. Crumbs are tossed to ordinary people to obscure the main purpose. And, of course, trickle-down is again invoked.
This legislation polls poorly, and it is another reason Congress has such a low approval rating. Disaffection with traditional politicians turned voters to Donald Trump, a charlatan who positioned himself as an outsider who would work for ordinary people.
Richard Barsanti, Western Springs
Tax bill will come back to haunt
I’m not a fan of the GOP, but I take a sort of perverse satisfaction at their success in passing their hokey tax-reduction bill. A few years down the road,a lot of people who voted for these clowns will have their eyes opened about the fairy tale referred to as trickle down economics. It will be a painful revelation, but those are the lessonsbest learned.
Dan McGuire, Bensenville
The ‘Just Pass Something’ tax bill
The new tax package should have been titled “The Just Pass Something Tax Act.” It was enacted based on Republicans’ need to show that they can pass some significant legislation and reward wealthy donors who had threatened to pull their support.
President Trump and congressional Republicans marketed middle-class tax relief that would not add to the deficit or debt and would make the tax system simpler. Instead, they passed a bill that provides massive tax relief to corporations and wealthy individuals. Many middle-class families will get tax cuts, if modest only modest cuts, but others will see higher taxes. And while the corporate tax rate cuts are permanent, the middle-class tax relief is temporary, with taxes scheduled to increase.
Credible independent estimates, even taking into account any likely economic growth, suggest the new tax plan will add at least $1 trillion of deficits over 10 years. This will force spending cuts that will hurt programs aimed at the same middle-class families who were supposed to benefit. And if bigger deficits and debt pose the same threats that Republicans told us they do during the Obama years, then we should expect higher interest rates and other serious economic repercussions.
On top of all this, Republicans have managed to take an inconceivably complex tax system and make it even more complicated. They rushed through a sloppy bill creating massive new loopholes for the wealthy. But, to their credit, they did pass something.
David J. Roberts
Associate Professor of Accountancy