Tax plan shell game hurts middle-class Texans

Who is the Tax Cut and Jobs Act for? What is it really meant to do? Create jobs? No. Regardless of how you normally vote, you know this bill doesn’t pass the smell test. It has one priority: cutting taxes for the wealthiest, by shifting the burden to everyone else.

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The House version of this scam gives the top .3 percent of Texans 52 percent of cuts. That’s 83,000 out of the nearly 28,000,000 Texans. Imagine the residents of Mission, Texas getting more tax cuts than the rest of the state combined. It would be farcical, if it wasn’t so serious.

The most narrow yet extreme of these cuts may be the elimination of the estate tax, which applies to only the largest .2 percent of estates. A married couple can pass on $10.9 million to their children before any estate tax is due. Do you know anyone who has $11 million to pass on? Rep. Michael McCaul, the wealthiest Texan in Congress, would save $38.7 million. However, this change is really about Sen. Ted Cruz’s desire to save non-Texan Robert Mercer hundreds of millions more. Never mind the expense to the country that provided the environment and secure conditions necessary for them to amass their stunning wealth.

Congress’ tax plans are shell game, offering slightly reduced rates and an increased standard deduction with one hand, while yanking away essential credits and deductions with the other. Important supposed benefits for the middle class include increased child tax credits as well as new credits for essentially every other member of the household. When taken together, these might be enough to make up for the elimination of personal exemptions, which deduct more than $4000 of taxable income for each person in your household. With the introduction of the Senate version of the bill, all the supposed tax benefits for middle class folks will disappear in 2025 — but the corporate tax cuts will be permanent.

You have major medical expenses? Sorry, no deduction. Want an education? Tax credits and deductions for student loan interest are gone. Buying a house with a $750,000 mortgage? Only interest on $500,000 is deductible. Lost everything in a disaster, like so many in Houston and the Gulf Coast? Now you’re really out of luck, because the property loss deduction is lost.

And now the Senate has decided to turn its version of the tax bill into a stealth attempt to repeal the ACA. There’s no question that it will cause premiums to go up and at least 13 million people uninsured by 2027.

Some may end up with a scrap of a benefit for a few years, but many won’t. Even those who do actually see a cut will see it turn into a tax increase by 2027 when the tax cuts for individuals phase out.

Extraordinary cuts will be required to pay for this — cuts that will disproportionately target health care programs that millions of Americans depend on. The House’s budget plan depends on more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, which is even higher than any of the ACA repeal plans. We expect an immediate $25 billion cut to Medicare, and a total of $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.

All of this is for what? So Wells Fargo can rebuild shareholder value? So the children of billionaires can inherit even more money?

No. It’s not right, and it shouldn’t happen. Tell your representatives that it can’t happen. They work for all 28 million Texans, not just the 83,000 at the top.