In a recent interview, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) described the Republican approach to government as “survival of the fittest.”
“If you’re well off, great, if you’re not—too bad,” he said.
McGovern is right. The Republican tax bill, on which Congress is expected to vote on Tuesday, is effectively a bid to weed out people struggling to make ends meet. It could have dire consequences for the social safety net—and for the 70 percent of us who will turn to a means-tested program like Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at some point in our lives. And it could impact millions who expect to rely later in life on Medicare and Social Security.
Think of it as a two-step project. A deficit-exploding tax giveaway to the very wealthiest corporations and individuals is step one. You cannot invest in the strategies that have been proven to help lift families out of poverty—we’ll get back to that in a moment—without adequate revenues. Not only will revenues take a hit at the federal level, but it’s expected that local and state governments will roll back investments in necessities like schools, drug-treatment centers, pensions, and more to lessen the tax burden on residents who will no longer be able to take the same federal tax deduction on property, state, and local income taxes.
Then, by adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit, the tax plan sets in motion the second step: In the name of deficit reduction, Republicans will move to cut the programs that help Americans experiencing financial hardship have at least some shot at affording basic necessities like food, housing, health care, education, and a little dignity in our later years. Indeed, according to The Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan intends to fast-track so-called “welfare reform” in 2018, in a bid to push it through with a simple majority. Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order reflecting similar priorities.