This isn’t what he was promising.
I guess it would be foolish to say that the tax code is a mystery and the devil in bound volumes. That’s being kind. When our President, Donald Trump, ran for President, he promised that he would greatly simplify the tax paying process, make it fairer, cut taxes, and raise more revenue for our beleaguered federal government.
I don’t know what happened, but those promises might as well have been made to apply to the tax code on Mars. They just have no relevance to the tax problems we have here on earth.
More important, they have no relevance to the promises Mr. Trump made during the campaign.
First of all, where the heck is that HUGE tax cut that Mr. Trump promised? There is a modest tax cut for middle class families, and I mean modest, like enough for one car wash per week.
But on the other side of the equation, there is an end to many of the deductions that the ordinary American has — perfectly sensibly — gotten used to. There’s no more deduction for medical expenses, which seems particularly preposterous for a rapidly aging nation like ours. There’s no more deduction for state and local taxes. This verges upon the insane in a time when state and local governments desperately need money for improving schools and law enforcement. It especially seems cruel to take away this tax saving approach for hard working families in high tax states like my beloved California and Maryland and fascinating New York and New Jersey.
What is the rationale for punishing people who live in states that seek to provide high levels of government services to their citizens? Is it to punish the states that did not go for Trump in 2016? Is it even Constitutional to discriminate so blatantly between the citizens of red and blue states in their taxation? Basically, Mr. Trump has just given a substantial tax increase to the states that voted Democrat. Is that allowed?
Could he withhold highway construction money from states that did not vote for him? It seems like much the same thing.
And then there’s the matter of the general assault on the housing industry and homeowners in general by Mr. Trump’s plan to massively restrict the deductibility of mortgage interest in states with high housing prices. Why would we want to punish homeowners and would be homeowners? Point of full disclosure: I own several homes. But why do we want to fire home construction workers, of whom there are almost 10 million in the labor force? Why would we want to make it harder for Americans in booming states to buy their homes by raising the cost of their mortgages? Don’t we want this country to be anchored to the rock of property owning? Isn’t that supposed to be the bedrock of a capitalist country? Why is housing in Mr. Trump’s target list except — again — for the truth that the voters in the high house price states generally voted for her who may not be named any longer.
And why do we cut taxes on super high income people who started their own businesses? Are they morally better than surgeons and cardiac specialists, who are also well paid, but who do not own their own businesses? Why do we need tax cuts for people who start new businesses? Doesn’t the system already reward those people enough? Won’t they be rewarded enough by the gradual abolition of the inheritance tax?
And what about the deficit? There seems to be a consensus that this Trump plan will increase, not decrease, the deficit. So what does it do? It punishes home owners, carpenters, chronically ill people, plasterers, citizens of states with serious social services. And what do we get out of it? We’re already in a full scale boom with an alarming labor shortage. Why do we need stimulus at all at this point?
I don’t get it. But then there’s a lot I don’t get. It all reminds me of what my great aunt, Gertrude Stein, said about Oakland. “When you get there, there’s no there there.” I’m just kidding. I’m not related to Gertrude Stein. But the rest is true.