We common people watch as the new government elites, those who won political power in 2016, battle among themselves.
Will the family clan, represented by Jared Kushner, win? Will they defeat the ultra conservatives, led by Steve Bannon? Or will Bannon’s group claim victory and bring down government as we have known it since our recovery from the 1930’s Great Depression?
Yet the battle over healthcare suggests an outside chance for ordinary Americans to influence outcomes. How will their interests fare in the looming battle over tax reform?
Will tax changes benefit mostly the wealthy, including the Trump family? Or will changes lead to the wealthy paying their fair share and taking some of the burden off working and middle class families?
Will popular government programs like social security, benefitting ordinary Americans, survive or will we continue our slide toward the inequality of the robber baron era?
Will tax breaks, sometimes used by big corporations to pay little or no taxes, continue to feed our deficit? Or will we ask for a level playing field for the small businesses that provide so many of our jobs?
In the 2016 election, voters supposedly defeated government elites. Now we will see if they can defeat business elites.
The famous quote: “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Today taxes are still certain. It’s the kind of taxes and who pays them that appear up for grabs.
Few would disagree with the complaint in The Economist (April 1, 2017) that “the most striking thing about tax in America is its complexity.” Much of the complexity, the article suggests, is because of the number of tax breaks. The U.S. congress has passed multitudes over the years, many of which benefit the wealthy.
The chief source of income for the average American is the wage he or she earns for a job. One criticism of the U.S. tax system is that it tends to tax this kind of income rather than wealth. The wealthy can afford tax advice to take advantage of the myriad—and legal—tax breaks.
This is not to say that the wealthy should be criminalized. Many wealthy individuals donate to worthy causes and use their money to create jobs. However, if tax reform is to take place, it should result in less burden on the working and middle classes and a fairer share paid by the wealthy.
If the Trump administration found healthcare to be more complicated than expected, tax reform promises to be even more difficult. Like healthcare, tax reform should be fair to ordinary Americans. The U.S. deficit does not need to increase because more tax breaks are given to wealthy citizens.