The GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted late in 2017, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported late this spring, has been a smashing success — for the U.S. corporations that have been smashing workers for the past four decades. Under the tax cut, the estimated average corporate tax rate has dropped from 23.4 to 12.1 percent while workers have seen “no indication of a surge in wages.”
Now, nearly two years after the legislation passed, organizers want members of Congress to know they’re still fighting this massive upwards redistribution of wealth. To do that, activists have convened a nationwide “Tax the Rich” bus tour to remind the country that the fight for fair taxation is far from over. The tour is sponsored by Tax March, a coalition of over 70 organizations working to create a tax system – and an economy – that helps everyone, not just those at the top.
The bus tour strategically coincides with the first nights of Democratic primary debates. Their 35-day excursion will include 40 events in 19 states and Washington, DC. The final stop will be July 30 in Detroit alongside the next pair of primary debates. Seventy-five percent of people want to raise taxes on the rich, a nationwide survey conducted by Tax March found. The tour is looking forward to elevating that message to a national level.
Organizers continued to tie their message of economic justice to a wide array of issues during the bus tour’s recent stop in Washington, DC. “People see the rich are getting richer and that their paychecks are not going up,” Tax March Campaign Director Dana Bye told Inequality.org. “Things are not getting easier for them to pay for healthcare. Many of them cannot afford a $400 medical emergency should it occur. People see that this is unfair.”
Jeneva Stone, an activist with Little Lobbyists, illustrated that injustice with her personal story, which she shared at bus tour’s press conference by the National Mall.
“My son has a rare disease and he is one of 35 million Americans for whom Medicaid has been a lifesaver,” Stone said. But she’s concerned that the federal government could cut vital healthcare spending from programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program — all to pay for a $2 trillion tax cut that funnels most of its benefits to the country’s wealthiest residents.
“The long term effects of the GOP Tax Bill would sacrifice my son’s life to corporate interests,” Stone said.
Rep. Ilhan Omar also connected tax policy to the general health of American society while speaking at the press conference. “It is not just a matter of economic policy. It is a question of the type of society we want to have,” Omar said. “America does not suffer from scarcity. It suffers from greed.”
“The top 1 percent have never had it better,” Congressman Brendan Boyle told the crowd. Eighty-three percent of the tax cut has gone straight to their pockets. Boyle also connected the costs of the tax cuts to proposed cuts to life-saving programs. “Why is it that every time when we bring up a solution the Republican side likes to say ‘How are you paying for it?’ but when they passed their tax cut for the richest 1 percent, not one dime was paid for?”
The Trump tax cuts were no anomaly. For decades now, tax cuts have channeled wealth upwards to the richest in the United States. Since 2000, the government has lost $5.1 trillion dollars in revenue due to tax cuts, a number that’s set to grow to $10.6 trillion by 2025, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has found. Tax policy has also served to widen racial economic disparities. More than 40 percent of the Trump tax cuts will go to white households in the top 5 percent of income earners, a report from ITEP and Prosperity Now found.
The Tax March hopes to raise the profile of these numbers during their bus tour, while reminding legislators that fair tax policies are immensely popular. Find out when the Tax March bus tour will be in a city near you.
Jarod Facundo is a Next Leader at the Institute for Policy Studies.