The House Republican tax bill has been introduced, packaged beautifully with lies. Now House Republicans will push to pass, in one week, a 500-page bill written in secret that transforms the tax code. Powerful special interests will spend millions for and against. Legions of lobbyists will fill congressional offices. Experts will duel over the effects. Trump is already boasting about “a great Christmas present” of the biggest tax cuts ever.
Republicans hope that the fog of competing claims will cover their tracks. In the midst of the frenzy, remember one thing: this entire project is utterly wrong-headed. Few politicians dare say it, but the reality is Americans are not overtaxed. They are underserved by their government.
American corporations and American citizens are not overtaxed, compared with other industrial nations. The greatest impediment to corporate competitiveness isn’t what corporations pay in taxes; it is an inefficient, outdated, and increasingly dangerous infrastructure. It is time wasted in traffic jams, slow trains, and overcrowded airports. Our broadband is slower and costs more than that of other leaders in the industrial world. Nine percent of all bridges are rated “structurally deficient” and 40 percent are over 50 years old. Our energy and water systems are aged and fragile. A bridge falls every other day in America. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that our increasingly decrepit infrastructure will cost about 2.5 million jobs and $7 trillion in sales by 2025. For businesses, the best use of public dollars isn’t tax cuts for the rich and big corporations but investments in rebuilding America.
Similarly, America’s workers are gouged far more by inadequate and wasteful public investment than by high taxes. We pay about two times as much per capita for health care—with worse results and leaving millions of people still not covered. The costs of educating kids—from pre-K to summer programs to soaring college tuitions and fees—rise far faster than stagnant wages. Crowded and pot-holed roads steal time and tax cars and tires. Flint is not alone in suffering from aging pipelines and poisonous water. For working people, the best use of public dollars is to invest in Medicare for All, tuition-free college, universal pre-K, and efficient roads and water systems.