We Need a Progressive Tax Code, Not a Regressive Tax Plan

by Devin Glaser 

Earlier this month House Republicans delivered on on their years-long promise to cut taxes for the very wealthy.  As has become the norm, H.R. 1 passed the House of Representatives with no Democratic votes, and now moves on to the Senate where the fate of its passage will rely on whether or not 3 Senate Republicans can be convinced to break from their party and vote on behalf of working class and poor Americans. Talk on the hill is the Senate hopes to vote on the legislation this week, rushing forward with an incredibly unpopular bill in an attempt to pass anything before the end of the year.

A progressive tax code is a fundamental pillar of a free and just society. Civilization exists because we pay for it. Every year, we chip in to pay for schools, roads, firefighters, hospitals, parks, and everything else we could never afford alone. These shared investments make up the foundations that help all of us live a happy life, build a thriving community, and achieve economic prosperity.

If we want every family and community in our country to thrive, it’s critical we have a tax code that works for all. This is a key element of the American Dream. If you work hard and chip in your share, a happy and prosperous life is within reach.

But Republican leaders and Trump are hell bent on dismantling any semblance of the free and just America we strive to be. Instead, they are trying to ram through a tax code that rigs the system even more for big corporations and the wealthy.

The House Bill takes from the poor and gives to the rich so transparently it would make the Sheriff of Nottingham blush. As just one of many examples, the bill eliminates the estate tax, a $172.2 billion gift given to the nation’s richest 5,500 families who will now inherit hundreds of millions of dollars tax-free.  To pay for this gift to a bunch of rich heirs, House Republicans eliminated the tax deduction given to working Americans paying off their student loans.

Take out loans to pursue a college education in order to prepare yourself for today’s economy? Too bad.

Have a rich grandparent who himself inherited wealth from his rich grandparents?  You won the lottery (again).

Over and over again, the bill benefits the rich and at the expense of the rest of us. The federal tax code, which as it stands is only slightly progressive today, will be much more regressive if the Republican party passes this bill.

Residents in Washington State are all too familiar with the effects of a tax system that caters to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.  Washington State residents are already saddled with the most regressive tax code in the nation, and Trump’s tax cuts will only further hurt the poor and working class. The tax plan would raise taxes on everyone making under $75,000 a year, representing the vast majority of Washington residents.

At a time when there is significant need to invest in our schools, our roads, and our infrastructure, allowing powerful special interests and anti-government extremists to manipulate the tax code and further consolidate their power is irresponsible and dangerous.

Public pressure against the Republicans’ unpopular attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act proved powerful enough to halt the legislation. We’ll have to see if that same pressure can be used to stop this regressive tax bill in the Senate.

Devin Glaser is policy and political director for Upgrade Seattle, a group advocating for a municipal broadband network in the city.

Featured image is a cc licensed photo attributed to Tom Hilton

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