Tax bill: Not just a 2017 story

It would be so easy to close the book on the 2017 tax bill, to allow our attention to be diverted to the next issue or threat, because there are so many.

We owe it to ourselves and future generations not to fall for what happened in 2017 on the tax bill in Congress, sold on hyperbole and defended on ideological sand that will give way this spring to damaging cuts to health care and nutrition to those who need it most.

Our senators should have warned us. Instead, they sold only cherry-picked data molded into a messy ball of spin and trickle-down economics, bereft of full context or history.

Senator Joni Ernst did it here: https://outreach.senate.gov/iqextranet/view_newsletter.aspx?id=104023&c=JErnst

Senator Chuck Grassley did it here: https://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/grassley-statement-president-trump-signing-historic-tax-reform-legislation-law

Just stick to the facts, and you can see that the expensive tax bill that will give us — conservatively — $1.5 trillion in deficit spending, also provides:
 
Basic RGB•     Breaks that provide meager help to low- and middle-income Iowans expire under this bill, including the Child Tax Credit expansion that the Senator notes in the linked piece, but does not note its emphasis to help the wealthy most, nor the expiration date in 2026.
As a result, as this table shows, the bottom 60 percent of Iowa taxpayers will, on average, see tax increases in 2027 when they are being told they will receive a “tax cut.”
 
•    A lessened value of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families because it holds down the formula to account for inflation.
•    New threats to the safety net as massive deficits caused by this legislation are used as an excuse to cut critical services that benefit the poor, the disabled, and low-income working families.
 
•     Permanent breaks that only reach the extremely wealthy and large corporations — permanent, at least until a future Congress has the courage to take on the interests that have successfully promoted them.
 
We need to do better in helping Iowans and all Americans understand the impact of major decisions that will affect the health and economic opportunity for themselves and their families.
In the coming months, the Iowa Policy Project will be examining these impacts further and in addition to reports, we will host public forums that expand on that understanding. It would be great to include either or both of our U.S. senators in any of these sessions, in a respectful and engaging environment, in a year when neither senator is on the ballot, so they can more fully discuss the impacts of  the bill that their initial statements did not cover.
 
The timing is important, with so many decisions coming for the Iowa General Assembly that may be affected by the just-passed tax bill in Congress, and responsibilities pushed to the states by Washington.
2017-owen5464Mike Owen is executive director of the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City. mikeowen@iowapolicyproject.org

Author: iowapolicypoints

The Iowa Policy Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides research and analysis to engage Iowans in state policy decisions. We focus on tax and busget issues, the Iowa economy, and energy and environmental policy. By providing a foundation of fact-based, objective research and engaging the public in an informed discussion of policy alternatives, IPP advances effective, accountable and fair government.

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