Democrats Should Make the Tax Bill Fair

Democrats Should Make the Tax Bill Fair December 28, 2017


Democrats can hardly control their indignation at the Tax Reform Bill that has just passed.  As proof of its unfairness, Democratic critics point out that the provisions that give big tax cuts to corporations are permanent, whereas individual tax cuts will expire in 7 years.  So why don’t the Democrats vote to make the individual tax cuts permanent?

The Washington Examiner makes that challenge in an editorial entitled Democrats should now vote to make middle-class tax relief permanent.

It also provides the useful service of explaining why the individual tax cuts are set to expire, unless they are renewed.

By the rules of the Senate, any bill projected to add to the deficit beyond a certain number of years must be passed with 60 votes, out of the 100 senators.  Thus, expiration dates are often used in legislation to allow a bill to pass with a majority vote.

For other parliamentary reasons, explained in the editorial linked above, the fundamental changes to the corporate tax rate could be made permanent, but the adjustments to the individual tax code were given an expiration date.

Republicans wanted to make the individual, middle-class tax cuts permanent also.  But they command only 52 votes.  If they could count on as few as 8 Democrats to vote with them, they could make the individual cuts permanent also.  The plan is to renew them in seven years when they expire.

The reason corporations are given a permanent cut and individual taxpayers are not is NOT that Republicans are purposefully being unfair by engineering a give-away to big business at the expense of the little guy.  The reason is that Republicans could not get ANY Democrats in the Senate to vote for their bill.

Democratic lawmakers know the reason for the expiration dates.  Presumably, the press covering the story also know the reason.  And yet the Democrats persist in charging Republicans with unfairness.  And so does the news media in conveying those charges while saying nothing about the real reason.

So if the Democrats are really concerned about the unfairness to middle class taxpayers who are faced with the prospect of their tax cuts going away, why don’t they remedy it?

Why don’t they introduce a bill making the individual tax cuts permanent?  It could easily attract enough Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold.  In fact, all 52 Republicans would likely vote for it.  All it would take is 8 Democrats.

If the Tax Bill isn’t fair, make it fair.

Or are there other reasons why Democrats are so opposed to the bill?   Are they afraid it might work?

But if it does, if it proves a catalyst for economic growth, are American taxpayers who are getting a significantly larger paycheck likely to vote for a party that vows to repeal the tax bill and raise everyone’s taxes back up?

If it doesn’t, if it restarts inflation and the increased federal deficit proves to be disastrous, they can still blame the Republicans.  If they retake the government, they can jack the corporate rate back up while still giving relief to their blue collar constituency.

The irony is that Republicans used to be the ones who were worried about deficits, inflation, and giving money away.  Democrats used to be the ones who advocated deficit spending as a way to stimulate the economy and wanted to put more money in the pockets of working families.

Such a role reversal might be a formula for coming to some bipartisan agreements.  But today’s political polarization, if you excuse the term, trumps each party’s own ideology.

In the meantime, Democrats would do well to get in front of this issue by taking the Washington Examiner’s challenge.


Photo:  “Trump, Pence, Ryan, McConnell celebrate tax cut passage,” by The White House from Washington, DC (Photo of the Day: December 21, 2017) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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