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Do you benefit from the new GOP tax bill?

Guest Column

On December 21, a day after the GOP Tax Bill was passed, Senator Ted Cruz stood on the floor of the Senate and declared that the new 500-page bill, which he helped write, was designed to make everyone’s taxes go down except “those rich people in Manhattan and San Francisco.” In other words, he is proud to use taxes to punish those he doesn’t like and reward others. But, in fact, Senator Cruz’s statement is viscously misleading. The rich people in Manhattan, San Francisco and everywhere else in the country are now seeing huge reductions in their taxes, while middle and lower income families are getting very little or nothing at all, many are even paying more.

According to the highly regarded, non-partisan Tax Policy Center, filers with high incomes (over $110,000) are the big winners. For example, those making $733,000 or more are seeing their tax bill slashed by something like $50,000 a year, and the richer these people are the more their taxes are reduced. (Imagine the great windfall for folks like Ivana Trump and Jared Kushner, whose reported 2017 income is between $82 million and $222 million, according to many sources.)

On the other hand, Tax Policy Center figures show that middle-income earners receive an average benefit of $900 a year and many much less, especially those with children, partially because the important “personal exemption” of $4,050 for individuals, spouses and dependents has been eliminated. Why should the rich benefit by thousands and thousands of dollars, while the vast majority of those in middle and lower-income brackets receive a few dollars a month or nothing at all?

Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman explains it this way: “…tax cuts for the rich have become the overriding priority of the modern GOP” (NY Times, June 1, 2018).

Shamefully, Ted Cruz and those like him are in the business of embracing the rich, while fooling the rest of America with a complicated bill full of slight-of-hand tricks. Two examples: while public schools are underfunded, there are generous tax cuts for those who send their children to private schools, and the huge tax cuts for corporations, advertised as benefiting everyone, are really cuts for wealthy stockholders. Meanwhile, even with low unemployment, real wages for ordinary workers are lower than they were a year ago (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Cruz is a smart guy. He must know that the rich in Manhattan and San Francisco are not who he is punishing. Instead, it is those who are far from rich, working Americans, working Texans. One running joke about Senator Cruz is that he has few friends. He is certainly not yours. (Take a look are your recent paystub.)

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Jerry Whitus is a resident of San Marcos