(This article is written in a format American news outlets use to report on foreign countries.)
The upper house of the legislative branch of the United States government has passed a package of tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
The United States ranks #1 in the world in its percentage of total global personal wealth (41.6 percent), according to a report by financial services company Allianz. The same report also showed that the U.S. had the highest wealth inequality in the world when taking America’s Gini coefficient score (a formula used to measure inequality) into account. This means that proportionately, the United States has the most concentration of total wealth in the hands of the fewest people.
Despite these alarming statistics, however, federal legislators voted Friday in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. to substantially cut taxes for the upper echelon of Americans. An official analysis of the bill by the U.S. Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) found that taxes will actually increase for Americans earning less than $75,000 per year in order to pay for tax cuts for those making more than that amount. The lower chamber’s version of the bill includes a tax hike of 400 percent for Americans seeking post-graduate degrees.
Specifically, Americans earning between $20,000 and $30,000 per year would see an increase of 13.3 percent by 2021, while those earning more than $1 million annually would see a tax cut of 4.2 percent that same year. Taxes for Americans in the $20,000-$30,000 income level would rise to 25.4 percent by 2027, according to the JCT’s calculations.
This latest tax cut package comes on the heels of a report by the Institute for Policy Studies — a Washington-based think tank — that found the three wealthiest Americans (Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) have more wealth to their name than the poorest 150 million Americans combined. Bezos alone saw his net worth briefly surpass $100 billion following Black Friday — a day in which Americans are expected and encouraged to engage in rampant consumerism.
The tax cuts for the wealthy are also a stark departure from data compiled by the most recent United States Census, which found that 48 million Americans, including 13 million children, live in households that lack the ability to provide nutritious food on a regular basis. In contrast to the luxury enjoyed by America’s wealthiest families, a leading newspaper of record in the United States found that 93 percent of counties in America never emerged from the crippling recession that plagued the country seven years ago.
However, there appears to be little political impetus from the voting public for their representatives in the federal government to pass the tax cut legislation. Despite the astonishingly low 14 percent approval rating one of the nation’s most respected polling organizations reported American voters had for the bill, lawmakers said the polls had little effect on their decision to support it.
“Depends on how you ask the question. Depends on what your sample is. Depends on whether you use landlines or cell phones,” U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) told reporters. “You can make a poll walk, talk, do whatever you want.”
Assuming the bill just passed by the upper chamber is approved by the lower chamber, U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the legislation before legislators return home for the Christmas holiday. Trump, who has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, is expected to reap $40 million in benefits from the legislation.
While leading opposition lawmaker Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) highlighted the bill gives tax breaks to wealthy financiers residing in tropical U.S. territories, President Trump claimed in a tweet from his verified account the opposition is simply upset that they won’t be “given the credit” for passing the legislation. The first word of Trump’s tweet contained a typo.
Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember the need to provide tax breaks to wealthy hedge fund managers in the Virgin Islands being one of our nation's pressing crises. Yet that's exactly what Section 14504 of the GOP bill does. pic.twitter.com/qP7VM12LNl
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 1, 2017
Republicans Senators are working hard to pass the biggest Tax Cuts in the history of our Country. The Bill is getting better and better. This is a once in a generation chance. Obstructionist Dems trying to block because they think it is too good and will not be given the credit!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Following the passage of the controversial tax cut package, U.S. lawmakers have announced plans to address the glaring hole in the federal budget created by the tax cuts by going after working-class Americans’ healthcare and retirement funds.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.