Trickle-down equation may not add up, Dems say | COMMENTARY

Democrats are hoping that as long as they show the numbers don’t add up then maybe the votes won’t either.

  • Monday, November 27, 2017 2:22pm
  • Opinion

A tax overhaul plan drawn up by Republicans in Congress will be a good deal for many households though not every one, or nearly every one, as promised by its authors.

And over time, the number of those on the lower rungs of the nation’s salary ladder who benefit will shrink while the number of those at the top – as well as the largest corporations – will not.

It’s a trickle-down equation Democrats insist does not add up. But if computed with fewer variables and different integers, they argue it could result in a greater number of households saving a few dollars now and in the future.

That’s the point two wonky Democratic lawmakers from Washington have been trying to impress upon colleagues ahead of expected votes in the House (Nov. 16) and in the Senate after Thanksgiving.

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and Sen. Maria Cantwell sit on the tax-writing panels in their respective chambers. In separate hearings recently, they sought to highlight the bill’s financial, and political, fault lines in questioning of Thomas Barthold, chief of staff for the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

You cannot put this 250-plus page tax proposal in a nutshell.

The House and Senate bills would slash corporate tax rates and create new tax incentives for business owners. They also would double the standard deduction, which most Americans claim, while getting rid of deductions for college loans, medical expenses and moving costs. The bills limit or repeal the existing federal deduction for state and local property, income and sales taxes.

And Senate Republicans now want to add language repealing a requirement that Americans have health insurance, a mandate imposed in the federal health care overhaul known as Obamacare. The House bill does not contain a repeal.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, or JCT, estimated how the Senate bill might pencil out for taxpayers.

Its analysis, as of Nov. 13, found 59.7 percent would see a tax decrease of at least $100 in 2019, and another 31 percent would see a tax change of less than $100 in either direction. Another 9.1 percent, or nearly 16 million households, would pay at least $100 more in taxes. By 2027, 58.8 percent would see a decrease of at least $100, 29 percent would see a change of less than $100, and 12.1 percent would see a tax increase of more than $100.

DelBene, in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing last week, took aim at the bill’s disappearing deductions.

Barthold confirmed in questioning that teachers would no longer be able deduct up to $250 for what they spend on classroom needs while a business owner could continue writing off office expenses. And, she ascertained under the GOP plan individuals won’t be able to write off sales tax on their purchases but a company can continue doing so.

“If a worker in my district had to move because his employer is forcing him to relocate his family or potentially lose his job, can he deduct his moving expenses under this plan?” DelBene asked Barthold in an excerpt reported by the Washington Post. No, he replied.

“But if a company, a corporation, decides to close its facilities in my district, fire its workers and move its operation to China, say, can it deduct associated moving expenses under this plan?” Yes, a company could deduct its moving cost, Barthold said.

In the Senate hearing, Cantwell focused on the estimated 13.8 million households earning less than $200,000 a year – including 300,000 in Washington – who could see their taxes increase.

“A big chunk of this bill is being paid for on the backs of middle-class families by taking away their deductions,” Cantwell said at the outset of a Senate Finance Committee hearing. “This isn’t simplification of our tax code, it’s simply raising taxes on middle class families in my state.”

DelBene offered amendments to restore deductions and they were rejected. Cantwell was making a similar attempt last week. Her chances of success seem equally slim.

Republican leaders are hurrying the bills along in hopes of getting something passed this year. Democrats are hoping that as long as they show the numbers don’t add up then maybe the votes won’t either.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield @herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Accelerating equity in STEM education in the Puget Sound

At the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), headquartered in Seattle’s South Lake… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Feb. 14

Tommy the turtle — a childhood friend Dear editor, “Tommy the Turtle”… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Legislative ‘wants’ and ‘needs’

With a third of the legislative session nearly gone, lawmakers are starting… Continue reading

How far will Artificial Intelligence go?

The smartest Jeopardy contestant was beaten by a computer. So was the… Continue reading

Confirmation bias in the impeachment proceedings

Most of us believe what we want to believe. Our natural tendency… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of Jan. 31

Voting can bring us together Dear editor, In response to Jerry Cornfield’s… Continue reading

Petty Hutt of Gig Harbor holds a sign that reads “We Stand With Matt Shea,” as she attends a rally Jan. 13 at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Throw in the towel on Matt Shea

Majority Democrats realize contentious representative is staying

White nationalism comes to Renton

Let’s just get down to brass tacks — Patriot Front is a… Continue reading

Election quirks: Drop boxes, tossed ballots, fickle voters

Before turning the page on the November election, here are a few questions to ponder.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Despite ruling on Public Records Act, we need to keep a close eye on Olympia

Washington Supreme Court upholds that state legislators are subject to the Public Records Act.

Republicans chose political power over the Constitution

I’m astounded and appalled that members of both parties in Congress were… Continue reading

The people who use SNAP are already working

SNAP and other welfare benefits help working, low-income families while boosting the economy