It’s war on the poor and the middle class

Jeff vonKaenel

I will say this for Donald Trump and the Republican Congress: They have simplified politics. Over the last several weeks, as the details of their so-called “tax reform” bills became clearer, so did American politics. It is no longer politics as usual. It is simply us, the 99 percent, versus them, the top one percent.

In a time of growing income inequality in America, this tax bill will dramatically slash taxes on the rich. This tax bill will, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, increase the deficit by a trillion dollars, even if the economy grows. This tax bill will make changes in the Affordable Care Act that will result in 13 million Americans losing their healthcare insurance. This tax bill opens up oil drilling in the 1.5 million acres of the environmentally fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And this tax bill even has a “stick it to the blue states that did not vote for Trump” provision that allows corporations in these high-tax states to deduct their state taxes but does not allow individuals to do so.

This is not just a tax bill. It’s an assault on those who are not millionaires. Over the past two weeks, I have been thinking a lot about this Republican tax plan.

I was thinking about the Republican tax plan when I visited a Reno homeless youth drop-in center, where the director told me that because, just as in Sacramento, there are no funds for a permanent-housing youth center, each night she has to push the kids out the door to sleep on the streets. The temperature was in the 20s that night.

I was thinking about it when I heard that one our staff members had lost a family member in the climate-change-enhanced Ventura fire. The tax plan will be a boon to oil and coal companies and remove or reduce solar and wind subsidies.

I was thinking about it when talking with Richard Alacala, office manager of the Oak Park clinic Transitions, which focuses on those with opiate addiction. The American opiate crisis, largely created by the immoral actions of certain pharmaceutical companies that have made billions on this epidemic, has led to more than 50,000 fatal overdoses in 2016. According to the Washington Post, the Republican tax bill will allow pharmaceutical companies and others to lower their taxes by establishing their “intellectual properties” in lower tax countries such as Ireland.

I was thinking about the Republican tax plan when reading the Sunday Sacramento Bee story on the sorry shape of California’s dams. This is similar to the sorry shape of our roads, our bridges, our parks and basically our entire country’s infrastructure. Why? Lack of funds. And the tax bill will likely make this problem worse.

I was thinking about it when I read that as soon as the tax bill is passed, House Speaker Paul Ryan intends to go after “entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.” In other words, because we gave tax breaks to millionaires and corporations, we’ve increased the deficit, so we need to cut programs such as Medicare and food stamps.

This is class war, pure and simple. The wealthy are conducting a war, and the poor and middle class of America are the casualties.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.