Never did I imagine that something resembling the current tax plan could possibly be proposed by the Trump administration, let alone then approved by the Senate. What in God’s name are these people thinking? Does anyone involved truly believe that this will spur growth and raise all boats, or are there more sinister forces at work?
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they all honestly believe that offering generous tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations while pushing a decidedly mixed bag on middle class to poor folks will actually bring on a new golden age. Where would they get such an idea? Apparently, these people:
An open letter to Congress from over 100 economists: Pass tax reform and watch the economy roar. It therefore appears that economists think this is right. Some economists. Very few economists. Hand-picked economists.
In point of fact, serious questions have already been raised regarding many of the signatories (Gop’s List of Economists Backing Tax Cut Includes Ghosts, Office Assistants, Ex-felons, and a Sprinkling of Real Economists). According to the linked article, among the relevant issues are:
One of the signatories, Gil Sylvia of the University of Georgia, does not have a biography page or any online trace of employment at the university. A university representative told The Intercept that no one with the name Gil Sylvia is employed there.
Another signatory to the RATE letter, Seth Bied, is not an economist. He is a low-level office assistant at the New York State Tax Department, whose spokesperson said Bied does not remember signing the economists’ letter.
Other signatories are far from independent voices. One is an in-house economist at a financial services firm based in Illinois. Another is an in-house economist with Bank of America.
Others on the list are part of advocacy groups that have made tax cuts their biggest legislative priority. James C. Miller III, one of the signatories, is an official with Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-run advocacy organization hell-bent on passing tax cut legislation. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another signatory, is head of the American Action Forum, the sister group of the American Action Network, the dark money group aligned with Ryan’s political team.
This certainly raises serious questions regarding the reliability of the “experts” President Trump references in this tweet:
Author screen shot.
President Trump Tweet regarding economists’ support.
Even more damning is this. Shown below are the reactions of 38 prominent–and not hand-picked–economists from across the political spectrum to the following statement: “If the U.S. enacts a tax bill similar to those currently moving through the House and Senate — and assuming no other changes in tax or spending policy — U.S. GDP will be substantially higher a decade from now than under the status quo” (http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/tax-reform-2).
Economists’ Reactions To “The Tax Plan Will Grow U.S. GDP”
0% Strongly Agree
19% Strongly Disagree
Those who conducted this survey did not have a vested interest or a political bias. Not surprisingly, the results contrast rather sharply with those referenced in the above tweet.
Or take this list, which in less than twenty-four hours already exceeds the length of that advertised by the President (and is still growing–those involved, which include me, got a very late start because never in a million years did we suspect that a “pro” list could possibly be constructed!):
Economists’ Opposition to Trump Tax Plan
Incidentally, I personally checked each signatory and, barring any Google search errors, every single one really does exist and really is an expert on macroeconomics–and is strongly opposed to the tax plan.
Just this morning my wife and I were discussing what we might have to do to cut back on spending if this plan goes into effect–cut back. This is hardly what a growth-spurring tax plan should have families discussing. Nor is giving firms higher after-tax profits a logical means of increasing investment and employment. Why do all the stores at the mall hire extra workers over November and December? Because profits rose in October? Of course not, it’s because they expect extra sales over the holiday season. The rise in sales increases employment and investment–and then profits go up. You can’t reverse the order and expect the same results.
And, indeed, the current tax plan is completely upside down. Despite the vote, there is still time to fix it, however; so please get on the phone to your representatives and make sure this disaster doesn’t occur. It’s an unconscionable mess and no hand-picked list of “experts” changes that fact.