The goal of Trump and the Republican leaders is to pull off a giant redistribution of over $1 trillion from the middle-class, working-class, and poor to the rich, who are already richer than ever.
They’re selling this to the public with a false claim that the middle-class will benefit from their tax cut plan. It’s a gigantic Trojan horse.
For most Americans, the proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. That’s right—temporary. They will shrink in just a few years. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.
Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut.
Republicans say economic “growth” will pay for the tax cuts, so there’s no need to cut social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
But Republicans have just passed a budget that would cut nearly $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for these tax cuts. Pell Grants, housing assistance, and even cancer research are also on the chopping block.
Now, they say we shouldn’t take their budget resolution seriously. It was just a device to get the tax bill through the Senate with 51 votes.
But once these tax cuts are passed, the budget deficit will explode. The Tax Policy Center predicts that it will cut federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years.
When that happens, the only way out of the crisis will be something dramatic—exactly the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and maybe even Social Security—that Republicans have wanted for years.
By this time, any talk of raising taxes on the rich will be dismissed.
Using the promise of middle-class tax cuts as a Trojan horse for a tax windfall for the rich and deep spending cuts is a tactic dating back to the Reagan administration.
But the version they’re aiming for now is “YUGE.”
We must see the strategy for what it is. And it must be stopped.
This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org.
Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, Inequality for All, was released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @RBReich.