By Barry Kaufmann
Using deceptive tax proposals as a measure, it appears that the elected officials controlling the federal government no longer care about good economic policy or the well-being of all Americans, especially the most vulnerable, including seniors.
Whether it’s the White House proposal, the Senate or House versions – it’s all bad for the vast majority of Americans and a fair economy. Reputable analysis of the misleading tax proposals reaches a similar conclusion, that key provisions are little more than giveaways to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population at the expense of all the rest of us.
Consider that the Senate budget, passed by the slimmest 51-49 margin, requires a cut of $473 billion from Medicare and about $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years to help fund the tax giveaways to the super wealthy. The spending plan would still add about $1.5 trillion to the national debt.
But those are simply numbers – the real impact is in the harm caused to people who depend on the health care and other services those programs fund that will no longer be available. Seniors depend on Medicare almost exclusively and Medicaid disproportionately in relation to the general population. Keep in mind, also, that these actions come as reckless national leaders continue to do all that they can to undermine the law of the land – health care under the Affordable Care Act – and destabilize the health care industry.
The fact that both Senate and House proposals eliminate the alternative minimum tax that insures the wealthy pay tax, that the estate tax is eliminated or its threshold is doubled, that the corporate tax rate is reduced from 35 percent to 20 percent without eliminating any corporate tax loopholes, when the current effective (how much corporations actually pay) rate is 18 percent belies the Republican rhetoric of a tax cut for the middle class.
For New Yorkers, the idea of seeing a benefit from this so-called tax “reform” becomes even more absurd. The White House proposal would eliminate the deduction for state and local income tax that makes it likely that most New York taxpayers will end up paying even more and that’s before even considering the impact of federal cuts and loss of services. The proposal also eliminates the personal exemption of $4,050. For a family of three this would completely eliminate the benefit of doubling the standard deduction.
Some members of the New York Republican House delegation sold out their constituents and put self-interest and party politics ahead of both state and country. Reps. Chris Collins and Tom Reed have even stated publicly that lawmakers are under enormous pressure to deliver for wealthy donors.
Seniors and other New Yorkers must stand strong and say no, and not be swayed by false promises that have no grounding in any reality. New York’s elected officials must act responsibly, not help perpetrate a swindle.
Barry Kaufmann is the president of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans, representing nearly 500,000 senior New Yorkers and community organizations across the state.