Muftic: Cruz’s tax policy falls flat in the year of income inequality issues
If there is one driving characteristic of this chaotic primary season common to both the GOP and Democrats, it is a revolt by those left behind in our slow, steady, but uneven economic recovery from the Great Recession. Growing and persistent income inequality is a concern of every candidate surviving the primaries and caucuses except one: Ted Cruz, whose flat tax plank would not only perpetuate income inequality, but could make it worse. In fact, Cruz is out of step with the hottest domestic issue of this campaign year.
There are differences between the camps regarding who is to blame for rising income inequality. Both Trump and Sanders have made hay by pointing fingers at trade agreements ,while supporting protectionism or “fair trade” Trump wants to slap a 45% import tariff on goods unfairly traded and on all Chinese imports, meaning the price from electronics to clothes we buy now would rise considerably. Sanders places protection of jobs in the US above any other consideration except raising the minimum wage. Hillary Clinton and Sanders have sparred over not if but how much the raise should be., Clinton fears raising import fees because of resulting trade wars. Eleven million US workers in industries engaged in trade could be impacted if our trading partners retaliated by raising tariffs on US goods.
All of these may be factors contributing to income inequality, but GOP tax policies deserve the greatest share of the blame: Keeping taxes low on investors in the economy has been the priority of the GOP and the dominating tax policies for many years. Even President Obama had to agree to keep Bush tax cuts on upper income brackets in any proposals he made and to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.
Statistics and data show that during this period the rich have only gotten richer and the rising tide of economic recovery did not lift all boats or trickle down to the rest of us as the GOP had promised. Even former GOP Congressman and host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, has called “thirty years of trickle down economics, B___ S___”.
Sanders’ solution is to raise taxes on everyone, but more so on the rich, to pay for free public college education and Medicare for All . Like her current platform, Clinton’s senate record reveals her consistent support of progressive taxes and middle class tax cuts, while opposing Bush tax cuts favoring the wealthy. Donald Trump wants to eliminate tax breaks for the rich, raise taxes on the wealthy, and lower CEO pay.
Ted Cruz’s non solution is a tax proposal that is more likely to increase income inequality ,not decrease it. He wants to trash the graduated income tax and replace it with the flat tax.. A flat tax would impose the same percentage, 16% or so, on all across the board, with some variations and exemptions, followed by eliminating the IRS . Cruz throws out glowing estimates of unleashed economic growth and post card size tax returns. Critics of the flat tax have argued that growth would not generate enough revenue to avoid massive cuts to federal programs and that flat taxes mostly benefit the already wealthy.
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