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Union leaders call Senate tax bill ‘robbery’

Stephon Johnson | 12/7/2017, 4:54 p.m.
When the U.S. Senate passed their tax bill in the dead of night, it didn’t surprise anyone that labor leaders ...
U.S. Capitol Wikipedia

When the U.S. Senate passed their tax bill in the dead of night, it didn’t surprise anyone that labor leaders weighed in.

“The Republican tax plan is a gift to corporate billionaires at the expense of working Americans,” said 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa in a statement. “This bill destroys the safety net that seniors and many working American depend on by way of historic cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. It will devastate K-12 and higher education, while failing to invest a dime in desperately needed infrastructure and jobs.”

A 479-page document that establishes one of the biggest wealth transfers in modern history, the legislation reduces corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent, the richest 1 percent of Americans (those earning more than $700,000 annually) get a 2.2 percent increase in after-tax income in 2018 and the middle class gets a 1 to 1.5 percent increase in after-tax income. According to the Tax Policy Center, between 15 and 20 percent of those making between $86,000 and $300,000 will see a tax increase because of the loss of itemized deductions and the elimination of personal exemptions.

The corporate benefits are something American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is well aware of.

“President Trump and Senate Republicans threw the middle class under the bus today,” stated Weingarten. “They are handing huge tax breaks to their wealthy donors and corporations, at a time of record corporate profits and when the Dow has never been higher, while sticking it to the middle class and working folks, whose wages have been stagnant for decades and who crave basic economic security for their families.”

Weingarten continued, “The old Republican cries against deficits, deficits, deficits are gone; passage of this bill makes it clear Republicans now only care about tax breaks for the rich. And nobody should be surprised if they use the massive deficits created by this bill to justify cuts to Medicare and Social Security.”

The U.S. Senate bill also doubles the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers and it raises it for married couples filing jointly from $12,700 to $24,000. The bill also keeps the estate tax but proposes doubling the exemption levels to $5.49 million for individuals and $10.98 million for married couples, allowing them to keep more of their wealth.

Figueroa would like the haves to help the have-nots and pay their fair share.

“The secretive rush to pass this bill is an insult to the intelligence of the American people who want the wealthy to pay their fair share and more, not less, investment in health care, education and infrastructure,” stated Figueroa. “This tax plan is a robbery of America’s working families in broad daylight. The lying, craven politicians who voted for this plan will be reckoned with at the ballot box.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that Washington, D.C., gave Americans the opposite of a season’s greeting.

Trumka commented, “President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country. The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that creates jobs.”