Email #137: “the road of chronic deficits”?

President Trump said yesterday that he would unveil his tax plan next week. He said it would be a “massive tax cut,” “bigger than any tax cut ever.”

Despite Republicans like you claiming to be deficit hawks, the national debt increased between 2003 to 2007. That was the last time the GOP controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. The debt increased because of the tax cuts introduced by President Bush and voted into law by you.

Those cuts made the tax system less fair. Before the Bush cuts, those in the highest income bracket paid 39.6%. After the cuts, they only paid 35%. As a result, high income taxpayers kept far greater percentages of their earnings than middle and low income taxpayers. The cuts were modeled on the Revenue Acts of 1921, 1925 and 1926, which resulted in income inequality hitting a high mark in 1929—just before the American economy plunged into the Great Depression. When President Bush left office, the American economy was plunged into the Great Recession.

Now with the GOP once again controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, we face the same dangers. President Trump will release the details of his plan on Wednesday, but he previously said he wants $1 trillion tax reduction once again targeted disproportionately at high income taxpayers. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Centers estimates it will add $7.2 trillion to the deficit over ten years. The conservative Tax Foundation says it will only add $4.4 trillion. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says $4.5 trillion.

Currently the national debt is about $20 trillion. The President’s Budget Director has called this a “crisis.” You have warned against going “further down the road of chronic deficits and leave our children and grandchildren saddled with debt that is not their own.” For these reasons, may I assume that you will not be supporting the President’s fiscally irresponsible tax proposal?

Or do you intend once again to vote for deficit-expanding tax cuts as you did multiple times during the Bush administration? If, as you have said so many times, deficit reduction is such a priority to you, why do you ignore it when it comes to taxes cuts? Especially cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans such as yourself?

In addition to expanding the long-term debt, the Trump tax cuts would also make balancing current budgets impossible. Will you oppose the cuts on those grounds, or has your career-long championing of a balanced budget amendment only been political theater? Does your commitment to fiscal responsibility only apply when there’s a Democrat in the White House?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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