How thrilling was Tax Day for you?
I refer, of course, to the thrill that you and all of America's middle-class families must have experienced when you tallied your tax bill for 2018 and saw that big juicy reduction you received, thanks to the sweeping $1.5 trillion tax cut that Donald T. & The GOP Trumpeteers rammed into law. They had hailed the cuts as a job-creating miracle that would deliver a seven-course dinner for everyone!
We quickly learned that the job promise was bogus, as corporations that were handed the bulk of the tax breaks simply pocketed the cash bonanza rather than putting it to work for America. So, they lied to us about that, but at least we got our share of the tax-cut bonanza, right? As Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell boasted to the American people, "You have more money in your pocket."
Uh ... actually, Mitch, no. While the richest 1% of taxpayers wallowed in an average $51,000 from your skewed tax cut, the great majority of us have now learned that you and your president lied to us. Again. Our seven-course dinner turns out to be a possum and a six-pack — at most! Indeed, an April poll by the Wall Street Journal reveals that only 17% of Americans can detect they got any tax cut at all.
In fact, the Republican tax bill was a cynical bait-and-switch job from the start. They did make a small, highly publicized cut in the middle class' tax rate, but — hocus-pocus — they quietly disappeared that benefit by eliminating or reducing various tax deductions that those families had been entitled to.
Also, by cutting about $1 trillion from the tax payments owed by the richest corporations and people, they clearly were going to nuclearize the federal deficit. So, to overcome that political hurdle, they resorted to the hoariest rhetorical trick of demagogic political scoundrels: the BIG LIE, repeated loudly and constantly. The tax giveaway, intoned a smirking McConnell to the media, will not gut government revenues but will be a "revenue producer." Of course, it was not, instead skyrocketing our country's deficit, which is now projected to surpass $1 trillion next year. Now, that's a thrill.
And where do America's richest corporate powers know where to find their big thrill. It's not on Blueberry Hill, like in the classic Fats Domino song. It's on Capitol Hill!
They rushed there in 2017 with a passion hotter than high school love, spewing the pheromones of campaign cash into the Republican congressional caucus. Sure enough, all but 12 GOP congress critters came through for the corporations, satisfying their lust to have their tax rate lowered form 35% to 21% — lower than what teachers and other modest-income workers pay.
Actually, the corporate elites had not been paying anywhere near the 35% rate, as they had dozens of loopholes that cut their average rate to about 13%. Now for the nasty part: Not only did Republican lawmakers coddle these privileged giants with the special rate cut, but they also kept intact most of those gaping loopholes. Thus, global corporate behemoths, each raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, paid zero in federal taxes this year — or less!
How is it possible to pay less than zero? By hiring hotshot lobbyists and paying off lawmakers to riddle the tax code with so many special breaks that you get a rebate from Uncle Sugar. On Tax Day this year, a watchdog group called ITEP (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy) issued a report documenting that 60 of America's biggest corporations used the GOP's tax rewrite to avoid paying a dime of taxes on the whopping $79 billion in profits they'd hauled in.
Indeed, these 60 tax-dodgers manipulated the system like cat burglars, forcing our nation's public treasury to give millions of our dollars to them in rebates. For example, Amazon, which had $11 billion in profit last year, is paying zero in federal income tax, instead plucking $129 million in rebates from the U.S. Treasury. Likewise, Chevron, John Deere, Delta Air Lines, Duke Energy, General Motors, IBM and Prudential are grabbing between $100 million and $650 million in rebates.
That wasn't a thrill that workaday Americans felt on Tax Day. It was a cold financial chill. This plutocratic rip-off is so shamefully unfair and un-American that a group of embarrassed rich people are calling for its repeal. For information, go to PatrioticMillionaires.org.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes "The Hightower Lowdown," a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.