Email #296: “a positive step forward”?

You said on Wednesday: “The tax reform framework unveiled today is a positive step forward in getting tax reform signed into law that lowers rates for individuals and families and helps level the playing field for American businesses.”

While I appreciate your optimism, I’m confused by how the Trump tax plan contradicts your dedication to debt reduction. The Senate Budget Committee resolution would reduce tax revenue by a $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Outside budget watchdog groups estimate the actual revenue loss would be more than $2 trillion. Previous tax plans put forward by the Trump administration had projected costs of $3 trillion and even $7 trillion. Whatever the revenue loss, that’s money added directly to the national debt.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “The president and members of Congress have spent years warning of our large and growing national debt and have said their goal was to pursue tax reform that doesn’t make that debt worse. It is extremely disheartening that the Senate budget may be abandoning that commitment.”

According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation: “Irresponsible tax reform is counterproductive and anti-growth because increasing the national debt hurts the economy. Tax reform should grow the economy, not the debt. This proposal fails the test of fiscally responsible tax reform.”

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center: “We are running a debt of $20 trillion-plus. We have to remember that debt is a tax on future generations, and so we talk about the immediate benefits, but also we have to recognize — if this added to the debt significantly, we are simply transferring a tax to future generations.”

And you said yourself: “It is a simple concept — you can’t spend more than you take in.” And the Trump tax plan will take in trillions less.

But it seems you no longer care about debt reduction–or you only care about it when there’s a Democrat is in the White House.

According to the “Fiscal Responsibility” page of your website: “Today, the national debt has soared well past a staggering $19 trillion. Our national debt has doubled since this Administration was elected to office, as the national debt was $9 trillion in 2008.” President Trump has been in office nine months now, but when you say “this Administration” you mean President Obama. You then brag about two balanced budget amendments that you introduced in 2015, describing one in the present tense as if it were still under consideration. It’s not. You even reference the 112th Congress—which ended in 2013.

With a Republican in the White House, I would think you would be excited about your annual ritual call for a balanced budget amendment. Instead, you literally abandoned “Fiscal Responsibility.” Are you planning on updating the page before this Congress ends, or will you wait until there’s a Democrat in the White House again?

Meanwhile, how can you say the government is taking “a positive step forward” when that step is toward an even higher national debt? Reducing the national debt is the signature issue of your quarter-century career in Congress. If you are willing to abandon it, what if anything do you represent?

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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