An Unacceptable Step Backward
When Congress passed a nearly $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy in 2017, America’s unions warned that the obscene cost of this tax cut bill would be used as a pretext to cut programs that benefit working people. Now those predictions are coming true, as President Trump has released his new budget plan for the coming year.
Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor expressed concerns about how the budget will impact working Oregonians:
The budget from President Trump will have a hurtful and negative impact on the lives of workers across Oregon. The cuts proposed are staggering: Tearing down a safety net that helps countless working families make ends meet while doubling down on tax cuts for the wealthiest will only push the gap between the rich and everyone else even wider. This is an unacceptable step backward for our nation.
The National AFL-CIO has prepared an analysis of what this budget means for working people:
The president proposes to cut $2 trillion from safety net programs, which is about the same amount as the cost of the 2017 tax bill. His budget plan would cut $1 trillion from Medicaid and subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. The Labor Department gets whacked by $1.3 billion. Trade Adjustment Assistance for people who lose their jobs to imports is slashed by nearly $400 million, and a program to help U.S. manufacturing companies create jobs is eliminated. The budget plan also eliminates subsidized student loans and the public service student loan forgiveness program.
While supporters of the 2017 tax bill promised it would benefit working people, almost all of its benefits have gone to corporations and the wealthy, and very little has trickled down to working people. Paychecks are still flat, and too many working people still have to work more than one job just to make ends meet. Wages grew by only 0% in September, -0.1% in October, -0.1% in November, and -0.1% in December, when adjusted for inflation.
To make things worse, the president’s budget proposes another tax cut that goes disproportionately to the wealthy—extending the tax cuts from the 2017 tax bill for another 10 years at a cost of $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Two-thirds of these tax cuts would go to the richest 20% of all taxpayers. Here we go again.
They keep running the same play because it keeps working. Since 2001, the wealthiest 1% of all taxpayers have gotten $2 trillion in tax cuts, and federal tax revenues have been reduced by $5.1 trillion. This is money that should have been used to make life better for working people—for example, by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, funding quality public education for every child, and guaranteeing retirement security for our seniors—rather than building up the fortunes of the 1%.