“I have said that this was stiff competition by some of the other things they have put forth, is the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said of the Republicans tax proposal.
Never mind the fact that Congress once passed the Alien & Sedition Acts (allowed the president to imprison citizens deemed dangerous and criminalized statements critical of the government), the Indian Removal Act (gave the Southern states the land that Indians had settled on), the Fugitive Slave Act (allowing the government to pursue runaway slaves in any state), the Eighteenth Amendment (ushering in the disastrous Prohibition Era), and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (allowing the Johnson Administration the power to use force in Southeast Asia without a declaration of war, queuing the Vietnam War).
But yea…a tax cut is totally on par with those.
Undeterred by common sense or reason, Pelosi followed that up by describing the bill thusly: “If this goes through, kiss life on earth goodbye. The debate on health care is like death. This is Armageddon.”
Who knew reforming the tax code is akin to the end times, when the world will be devastated in the final battle between good and evil?
It’s one thing to laugh at the hyperbole of Congressional Democrats, whose partisanship is baked into the calculation. It’s quite another to attempt to combat the misconceptions created by the faulty reporting on the tax bill.
Take, for instance, the Washington Post, which argued that the “Senate tax bill would cut taxes of wealthy and increase taxes on families earning less than $75,000 by 2027.” Or the Associated Press’ breaking-news tweet: “Breaking: House passes first rewrite of nation’s tax laws in three decades, providing steep tax cuts for businesses, the wealthy.” Or the New York Times editor board urging their readers to call senators to protest the tax reform bill and offering the phone numbers for each senator.
Unfortunately, none of this “coverage” was designed to educate readers or inform a reasoned debate between the two sides. Instead it was purpose-driven to create a singular perception of the bill: That it cuts taxes for corporations and the rich at the expense of everyone else.
Sadly, it has worked. According to a recent CNN poll, only 33 percent of Americans support the GOP bill, while 55 percent oppose it. Perhaps more tellingly, a new York Times poll shows that just a third of Americans believe they will see their taxes go down in 2018. Those results are in line with a CBS survey, which found that a plurality—42 percent of Americans—believed that the tax bill would actually increase their taxes, while only 25 percent believed it would lower them.
But the reality stands in stark contrast to the narrative being pushed by Democrats and the media they can count on to carry their message. According to the Tax Policy Center, the Republicans’ tax bill will lower taxes for all income groups. The study also shows that a whopping 80 percent of people will see a cut in 2018.
And don’t be fooled into a debate over winners and losers, as if this tax bill is a zero sum game. The importance of reducing Americans’ tax burden and putting more money back into their pockets can’t be overstated, but the real power of this bill is to expand the economy and increase paychecks, thereby creating a rising economic tide that lifts all boats. This bill fundamentally isn’t about re-slicing a stagnant economic pie, it’s about growing the pie.
That comes in the form of reducing the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world from 35 percent down to 21 percent, lowering the cost of capital and investments, and moving to a territorial system that doesn’t double-tax our multinational businesses. These aren’t giveaways to big corporations, they are pro-worker and pro-consumer policies that will reduce tax burdens that are currently causing lower wages and higher prices. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the proportion of the corporate tax burden that falls on labor could be more than 70 percent.
This is not some economic theory, we’re already seeing it play out following passage of the tax bill. Just yesterday AT&T announced that it will give 200,000 employees a $1,000 bonus and invest an additional $1 billion in the United States as a result of the tax bill. Later in the afternoon Comcast NBCUniversal made a similar move, announcing special $1,000 bonuses for more than 100,000 non-executive employees “[b]ased on tax reform.” Boeing also joined the party, declaring that it will make a $300 million investment in employee-related and charitable investments.
Later in the day Fifth-Third bank announced it was raising its hourly wage to $15 and paying more than 13,000 employees a one-time bonus of $1,000. Not to be outdone, Wells Fargo announced it would match Fifth-Thirds wage hike and pledged up to $400 million in philanthropic donations.
If this is “Armageddon” then the world should end more often. If these are the results of the “worst bill in history” then keep on passing terrible legislation. Or, we could move beyond hyperbole and convenient anti-Trump narratives and honestly discuss the positive impacts of this once-in-a-generational legislation.