There is no free lunch

Have you ever heard someone say there is no such thing as a free lunch? That phrase comes to mind as I look at the Tax bill that Congress seems intent on passing as quickly as possible. While cutting taxes always sounds good, can we all stop for a moment and think about the services we get for our taxes? We pay federal income taxes that among other things has built and maintains the interstate highway system. Federal taxes also pay for our armed forces and the care of veterans, the GI Bill, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, support of our national park system, the postal service, the protection of the environment, and college financial aid. Do you know anyone who drives on the interstate, has flown on an airplane, is serving or has served in the military, receives Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, has visited a national park, receives Pell grants for college, gets mail, or likes to breathe clean air and drink clean water? Do you receive those services? Well, these are what your Federal taxes pay for.

In Texas we pay no state income tax, but our state, country, and city taxes (that are mostly property taxes or sales tax) pay for things like the construction and maintenance of state and local roads and bridges, public schools and universities, state police, state parks and museums. My local taxes pay for the stripes and signage on the roads on which I drive, maintains police and fire departments for my safety, provide for the construction and maintenance of public utilities, and pay for a public pool, city parks, a library, and recreation center.

Now what happens if something like the current Senate tax plan is passed? First, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine (not a bastion of liberal propaganda) those earning less than $75,000 a year will have a 1-1.5 percent tax increase. Corporations and the richest 1 percent of Americans receive the majority of tax cuts under this legislation. The justification for these cuts are that business and the rich will generate economic growth by hiring more people with their extra money. But according to Forbes there is no evidence to support this belief. Further, this tax cut is projected to increase the Federal deficit by over one trillion dollars in 10 years. This brings me back to my theme of no free lunches.

What happens if the tax cut legislation is passed and it does blow up the Federal deficit? Most obviously, there is less money to support the services that the Federal government provides (including Federal money that goes to states for Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, veterans services, highways and bridges, keeping air and water clean, air traffic control, etc). I think we can all agree that these services are important for peoples’ health and safety. So, if there is less money for necessary Federal and federally-supported State services, what happens then? I think there are only two options. First, you cut those services. However, that harms the people who rely on those services and we all have loved ones who rely on Social Security, and receive Medicare or Medicaid. We all want to drive on safe roads, breathe clean air, and drink clean water (and personally, I am grateful for the air traffic control system when I fly). The second option then is if federal funding for services we want are cut (because rich people and corporations got a tax cut) then money for those services has to be made up at the State or local level. In other words, the money you might save with your tax cut will just be spent on rising state, county and city taxes unless we are willing to accept substantial cuts in the services we receive. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Finally, the cuts to federal-level aid programs are not hypothetical. They are already written into federal spending legislation. Under current spending law called PAYGO, if Congress passes legislation that adds to the federal deficit automatic spending cuts are triggered. If the Senate version of the tax bill is signed into law for example, that initiates an automatic 25 billion dollar cut to Medicaid. The bill literally cuts medical care for the poorest Americans in order to give corporations and the rich a tax cut. When you voted to make America great again is this what you imagined?

If you think cutting medical care to the poor or cutting social security for the elderly is a bad idea take 10 minutes and call your Congressman and Senators. I live in House District 21 so my Congressman is Lamar Smith. The phone number of his Washington office is 202-225-4236. Senator Cornyn’s office is 202-224-2934. Senator Cruz’s number is 202-224-5922. You don’t have to prepare a speech. Just tell the aide who answers the phone your name, the city where you live, that this tax bill will hurt you or a member of your family, and that you want them to vote against it.

McGee is a resident of San Marcos

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666