By: Erich Pica, Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
For all of the terrible elements in the Republicans’ new tax plan—the extreme giveaways to the rich, tax increases for the middle class, major breaks for corporations that pollute our air and water—the reality is that this isn’t a plan to reform the tax code. This is a plan to end government as we know it.
When Trump released his budget last spring, all reasonable people across the country declared in unison that it could not possibly be serious. The major cuts to the popular and important programs across the political spectrum would never be politically feasible.
While Republicans dream about rolling back environmental protections, the truth is the GOP has never had the votes or public support to dismantle the bedrock achievements of the environmental movement. A push to return the country to the days before the Clean Air Act would almost certainly fail. The work that agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency do is popular and the effect of their work impacts communities across the country. Yet, for all the support for these programs and agencies, Trump’s budget called for a 31 percent cut to the EPA, gutting some programs and abolishing others.
Surely these cuts to programs that help protect the environment and public health would never survive Congress. But the seriousness of Trump’s tax giveaway plan should reverse any notion that his budget was a farce. Republicans’ ambitions to force Trump’s extreme budget cuts on the American people runs through the new tax plan, which was passed by the Senate on Friday.
There are plenty of reasons for people who value the environment to be horrified by Trump’s tax plan, which is set to pump more rule change would be a major reward for an industry that parked money overseas allowing them to avoid paying taxes on these profits. Middle-class families will never get such luxuries nor will benefit from the giveaway.
It’s no lack of contrast that this bill would also gut the wind energy renewable energy tax credit, cutting it by 40 percent. Finally, this plan lets Big Oil keeps its most egregious tax giveaways and hands it a hefty cut to the corporate tax rate, guaranteeing that it will keep its place the most undertaxed and subsidized segments of our economy.
The vicious truth is that the GOP plan will add an estimated $1 trillion to the deficit, which they will use as further evidence to justify cuts to popular environmental protection programs.
Without enough votes to dismantle widely popular environmental protection laws, Republicans have set their sights on the next best thing: dismantling the widely popular agencies charged with enforcing them.
Ever since Grover Norquest begin insisting that Republicans make a pledge to cut taxes—no matter the cost—the goal of the party has been to break the government by cutting and underfunding one program at a time.
As these cuts have taken place, we’ve seen the rich grow richer, the essential functions of government wear and break, the divide between the two parties grow and the overpowering political voice of corporations expand. Trump’s tax plan will only make things worse. While GOP budget hawks made their votes on tax cuts that will add to the deficit, they began prepping their talking points on their plans to make austere cuts to that will strip these agencies to the bone.
As horrifying as Trump is in temperament, his tax plan is proof that he is just another Republican with broken ideas aimed at crippling the progress our country has made in protecting the environment.
For more than 30 years, the GOP’s endgame has been nothing but a plan to use tax policy to funnel Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars to Rebublicans’ wealthy donors, while compromising the essential functions of government.
Trump is just a louder, more toxic variation on the GOP’s very old theme.
Erich Pica is the President of Friends of the Earth. Follow Erich on Twitter @erichpica.