With a House Tax Reform bill on the table, Representative John Shimkus gave it a rosy review in his recent electronic newsletter -- including his all-too-familiar misrepresentation of the actual situation.
Both the House and Senate bills under consideration are based on the thoroughly discredited "supply-side" or "trickle down" economic theory. George H. W. Bush called this "voodoo economics." At its core, the principle claims cutting taxes for the wealthy and large corporations will awaken the mythical Growth Fairy, magically causing overall tax revenue to go up and jobs to rain down like manna from heaven. This has actually been tried many times at the federal and state level over the last 30 years and it has never worked. If in doubt, look at Kansas!
Rep. Shimkus tells us his plan is "simpler, fairer, flatter." Let's look just at the fairer claim. He presents three example of ordinary, middle class families that will save $700, $1,182, and $1,301. In my family's case, our taxable income would actually increase marginally but a slightly lower tax rate will result in a net savings of about $900. All these figures are nice, but will certainly not be life changing. Meanwhile, under extreme public pressure, Republicans agreed to keep the top tax bracket at 39.6%. Mr. Shimkus deviously does not mention this currently kicks in for taxable income over $470,700, while in his plan that threshold is raised to $1,000,000 -- a tax saving of over $23,000 for those at the one million dollar income level. I fail to see the fairness in this situation.
Rep. Shimkus has longed ranted against the Estate Tax, claiming in his newsletter that the Republican plan to reduce and eventually eliminate this program will provide tax relief for "thousands of Illinois farmers and small businesses." However, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates this year only 5,500 estates in the entire country will pay this tax at its current level. Once again, this is actually a massive giveaway to the some of the wealthiest families in the country. Mr. Shimkus has failed us again.
We certainly face large budget deficits. But who, in their right mind, would claim the best way to overcome this is to first reduce revenue? In order to keep the increase in the deficit under 1.5 trillion(!!) dollars there are huge cuts to deductions and programs that largely benefit the middle class and below. Most projections indicate this reduced level of revenue will, within a few years, force even more cuts -- and to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. This is part of the Republican dream to take America back to 1932.
Many Republicans in Congress now publicly admit they are under great pressure from wealthy donors to get this giveaway (to those very donors) done. Sadly, in spite of his spurious claims to the contrary, Representative Shimkus is standing with those wealthy donors and not with the vast majority of his district's citizens.
Peter Andrews, Charleston