The Hidden Cost of the New Tax Plan
November 14th, 2017
The new tax plan is out, but there is one crucial detail missing from the headlines: who will end up paying for the massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich.
It’s the lowest income, most vulnerable Americans.
Once these tax cuts take effect and the deficit skyrockets as predicted, we should expect lawmakers to demand cuts to federal programs that help millions of Americans put food on the table, get affordable health care, and make ends meet.
How do we know?
Because this same pattern has repeated itself through many versions of health care bills, both the House and Senate budget resolutions, and now the new tax proposal. All have jeopardized critical anti-poverty programs — whether through direct funding cuts, devastating structural changes, or, in this case, giving tax breaks to the wealthy and threatening future funding for anti-poverty programs. These examples are all from 2017, but the fact is that these programs have been targeted one way or another for years.
Time and again, Capitol Hill has considered hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, SNAP (what we used to call Food Stamps), and other programs that allow low-income Americans to get by. Fortunately many of those threats have been stopped, with public outcry helping protect these programs that are proven to help people move out of poverty. But if Congress enacts more tax breaks for the wealthy that blow a hole in the deficit, we should expect the same programs will wind up back on the chopping block.
Make no mistake: if made law, this tax plan will ask struggling families to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. On a practical level, this means that instead of being able to buy groceries and get affordable medical care for their kids, low-income families could face a situation where they simply don’t have enough food and can’t see a doctor. This is an unacceptable trade-off.
Tax policy can be a powerful mechanism for creating economic opportunity and security for all. Sadly, this plan doesn’t do that. Instead, it prioritizes the super-rich and leaves working families and kids behind.
Despite some of the rhetoric, federal anti-poverty programs work. SNAP alone lifted 3.6 million people above the poverty line in 2016, while Medicaid currently provides health care for one in five Americans, including low-income children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Programs like SNAP play a key role in our economy because recipients use their benefits at local businesses. Children in households that receive SNAP do better in school and earn more as adults. Medicaid makes people healthier in the long-term, and makes sure families don’t have to fear that one trip to the emergency room will result in a lifetime of crippling debt.
Slashing these programs to make up for a revenue loss after a massive tax cut for the wealthy will hurt millions of people who are already struggling to get by. Low-income families and kids should not have to pay the price so the rich can get even richer. Congress should be looking at how to strengthen — not undermine — our federal anti-poverty programs. Tax policy can be used a force for good, but this new framework will make things worse, not better for millions of families.
Child Tax Credit Proposal Leaves Out the Lowest-Income Families
Not only does this tax proposal threaten anti-poverty programs in the future, it’s bad policy for millions of low-income kids now. The much-heralded increase to the Child Tax Credit actually leaves out the lowest-income families altogether. Meanwhile the proposal would also make this credit harder to claim for millions of immigrant families. Get state-by-state numbers on the families left out.
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