Congressman Mike Coffman vote Wednesday in support of the House tax reform bill abruptly ends cultivated perceptions that he is a fiscal conservative or a politically moderate champion of the middle class.
While there are some promising elements to Trump’s GOP-sponsored tax reform bill, it is provably both fiscally irresponsible and outright injurious to the already flailing middle class in his district and across the country.
We have yet to see a single, credible independent analysis of the bill show that this plan wouldn’t seriously hurt some of the country’s most vulnerable Americans. And every review reveals that the bill would inarguably run up massive amounts national debt — above that which the Unites States is already struggling with.
If you’re wondering if these are the same Republicans willing to shut down the federal government over the principal of deficit spending, so are we. And so it’s befuddling why Coffman wouldn’t be actively campaigning against the bill, rather than voting for it.
There are good parts to this measure, one of which Coffman points out. It does, to some extent, simplify America’s impossibly complicated tax code. But it does that primarily by ending “complicated” deductions, such as those for people with exorbitant medical expenses, struggling college graduates who won’t be able to deduct onerous college loan interest fees, and deductions for people who pay for police, roads and schools through their state taxes.
Why cut those?
Looks for us to be at the front of the parade for a bill that will simplify taxes, reduce them for everyone — everyone — and reasonably boosts debt to a level that secondary economic stimulus — “voodoo economics” — can realistically offset.
This plan is anything but that.
Independent arms of congress that referee the true cost of legislation are pessimistic, but far less so about the damage this scheme would inflict on America’s national debt than are independent analyses. Congress’ own researchers estimate the change would hike the national debt $1.5 trillion over 10 years — above the already swollen federal debt. But researchers at the independent Tax Policy Center estimate that number would likely be double.
Coffman’s own defense for abandoning his previously unshakable fiscal prudence hinges on economic growth forecasts this country hasn’t ever sustained.
Dubious claims about job creation were belied just this week when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shot himself and this tax-plan in the foot by asking CEO’s if their enormous corporate tax cuts would prompt them to invest in America. From the Washington Post last week:
President Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, looked out from the stage at a sea of CEOs and top executives in the audience Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting. As Cohn sat comfortably onstage, a Journal editor asked the crowd to raise their hands if their company plans to invest more if the tax reform bill passes.
Very few hands went up.
Cohn looked surprised. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” he said.
Economists have long said a lack of capital and profit in the United States isn’t holding back job and growth development. Many experts agree that a financially depressed middle class is unable to spend on new business corporations would develop if there was a market.
More immediately injurious to middle-class taxpayers, however, are the demise of critical deductions, such as those for taxes paid to Colorado or other states, interest on pricey college loans, deductions for medical bills that pile up because insurance covers so little and health care costs so much. These aren’t tax oddities. More than nine million Americans qualify for the medical deduction, and most have medical insurance. And taxing what Americans must pay in other taxes as income undermines more than a century of tax philosophy championed by conservative Republicans.
These deductions are critical to families who don’t qualify for Obamacare health-insurance subsidies, don’t qualify for federal college grants, can’t afford secondary health insurance policies, and who don’t qualify for most federal and state subsidies. These are families, however, that barely eke out a living every month — as long as the car or furnace don’t break down.
These people, which make up probably the biggest portion of Coffman’s district, would at best see very little or no real net change from this measure, but by credible accounts they would see their net taxes go up.
Just weeks ago Coffman said he went out on a limb to push against a menacing Obamacare repeal bill because it jeopardized Colorado’s Medicaid system. The bill he voted for Thursday builds in huge Medicaid cuts as a last-minute effort to ease off this scheme’s imminent damage to the national debt.
We agree that tax reform is desperately overdue. And the endless parade of Washington lobbyists writing an ocean of checks to congressmen to pass equally endless special interest tax perks has created a behemoth tax code that is unsustainable.
But reform can’t come at the expense of a vast part of America already hurt by stagnant wages and endless hikes in housing, health-care, utilities, property taxes and college.
The winners with this GOP bill are the rich, the very rich and the super rich. While we begrudge no one tax savings and the opportunity to make money in a free economy, we are disappointed Coffman would back a bill that offers so much to wealthy Americans at the indisputable cost to middle-class Americans.
America needs fair and equitable tax reform, this certainly isn’t it.