OP-ED: Republican tax bill robs the poor to feed the rich

Marian Wright Edelman | 12/20/2017, 1:17 p.m.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act recently passed on a nearly straight party line Republican vote in the U.S. Senate ...

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act recently passed on a nearly straight party line Republican vote in the U.S. Senate is, like the House-passed bill, a moral abomination. Their enactment would be the death of America’s dream for tens of millions of children. The House and Senate bills favor the wealthiest Americans and most powerful corporations over poor and moderate-income children and families—billionaires over poor babies and powerful corporations over poor children. They are evil.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned, that “America is going to hell if we can’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” With both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives now having passed extremely unjust tax bills, I must ask—how can 278 political leaders, 51 Senators and 227 House members, act against the best interests of so many in their states and across our nation to line the overstuffed pockets of powerful special interests with government money?

What religious texts do these Members of Congress and those who lobby them read? How did they miss the clear warnings of the prophets and gospels and tenets of every great faith to care for the poor, the sick, the lame and the orphan? Where did they learn that acting as Robin Hood in reverse by denying the poor and powerless child the basic survival needs of food and shelter to give to the wealthy and powerful is acceptable?

There are 565 billionaires in the United States—the 400 richest of whom have a combined net worth of $2.7 trillion. More than 13.2 million children—1 in 5—live in poverty in America. Their families of four make less than $24,563 a year. More than six million children live in deep poverty, at less than half the poverty level.

A majority of both houses of Congress and the Trump Administration seek policies to reward millionaires and billionaires and non-needy corporations and add nearly $1.5 trillion—around $150 billion a year for the next ten years—to our national deficit to do so. And to pay for it, they will deny poor and moderate-income children and families healthcare, food, housing, child care and other survival assistance or help parents get needed jobs at livable wages to support their families.

Consider some of the facts about these tax cut bills: Both the Senate and House bills lavishly benefit the wealthiest households and individuals. The Senate bill doubles the estate tax threshold, enabling individuals to inherit tax free up to $11 million and couples up to $22 million. The House bill would eliminate the estate tax entirely.

More than 60 percent of the Senate bill’s individual tax cuts in 2027 go to the richest one percent of households making $1 million or more; 48 percent of current tax-paying households would face tax increases according to the Tax Policy Center. The Senate bill ends individual tax benefits after ten years while making permanent tax cuts for corporations. The House bill continues both individual and corporate tax cuts.