It's been a tumultuous couple of months for tax bill writers and constituents alike. As lawmakers hurriedly drafted legislation behind closed doors, many Americans were biting their nails at the predicted impact the bill would have on their livelihoods, including possible tax hikes over the life of the Senate’s bill and cuts to vital public benefits programs in both House and Senate versions of the bill.
After passing their respective tax bills, which analyses demonstrate constitutes the greatest transfer of wealth from the working- and middle-classes to the wealthy in the nation's history, the House and Senate needed to reconcile their bills’ differences in a conference committee. The conference committee reconciled many issues, including the tax rate of "pass-throughs", individual tax rates, the child tax credit, the mortgage interest deduction, the medical expense deduction, the education deduction, the estate tax, and Obamacare's individual mandate. A majority of House and Senate conferees signed off on the reconciled bill Fri., Dec. 15.
The conference committee’s negotiations resulted in some improvements to earlier versions of the bill—the medical expense deduction, the student loan interest deduction, and the deduction for educators' classroom expenses were preserved in the final bill, for example. However, the final bill, at its core, remains deeply problematic because it explodes the federal deficit and justifies that explosion by cutting vital services that millions of Americans rely on. Seventy (70) percent of Americans will utilize a program like Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at some point in their lives, underscoring the fiscal and moral recklessness of this bill.
The tax bill will have repercussions on working- and middle-class Americans for decades to come. It's all hands on deck to resist further attempts to exacerbate wealth inequality.