The Record (New Jersey)
December 26, 2017
In an age when so many are rightfully suspicious that our elected officials don’t have a vision that addresses the realities of most Americans, it is time to focus on what most of us agree are the major needs in our country. Needs that the latest Republican tax law appears to ignore and make much worse.
We can start with the consensus about the continuing wage stagnation for so many; a post-secondary system of education that fails those not interested in pursuing a four-year degree, but who nonetheless want job training to get good employment; the crushing burdens of student loans for those who finish their undergraduate and graduate educations; the growing unmet need for qualified workers, either in the fields of agriculture or in high tech; the heartbreaking story of so many millions of Americans without affordable health insurance or those without any at all; our crowded and crumbling roads, sewers, bridges, airports, mass transit, tunnels and power grids; and our need to invest in our nation’s research and development in the areas of cyber security, energy, disease, telecom and technological breakthroughs that will restore America’s economy and leadership in the world.
The Republican tax law addresses none of these problems.
Instead, and tragically, the latest Republican tax law breaks our budget by spending at least $1.5 to $3 trillion dollars, mostly a massive gift to our richest neighbors and corporations.
Republicans who voted for this tax bill talk about addressing the needs of the middle class, but use 83 percent of these tax-cut benefits for the enrichment of our wealthiest 1 percent. This trickle-down approach has been followed before, creating historic additions to our national debt—which is now $20 trillion dollars – without a commensurate increase in our economic growth.
While crises of war, natural disaster, long-term infrastructure improvements and economic recession might justify adding to our debt, this supply-side travesty does not address any of our country’s deepest, most urgent or long-term difficulties.
This bill gives giant tax cuts to corporations, in the stated hope that major corporations will invest that windfall in new jobs. However, if past is prologue, we can expect that our very wealthiest individuals and corporations will hold onto their newly gotten tax cuts, enhance their lifestyles, buy back their stock, and give their executives and shareholders greater returns. But they will not markedly invest in any higher wages, additional employees, capital plant, infrastructure, or research and development.
But Republicans in Congress, urged on by a president who appears to have no commitment whatsoever to the kind of middle-class and infrastructure paradise he described in his campaign, have just taken the step of sacrificing all this tax revenue without investing in any wage and full employment strategies or infrastructure improvements.
Americans have accomplished great things. We have advanced the cause of liberty here at home and around the world. We have saved ourselves and many others. We did so by coming together, in common cause, to do what needed to be done, aided by the most extraordinary system of government the world has ever known.
Now, to save our country from slipping further behind, perhaps irretrievably, we must come together and take the reasonable and necessary steps to achieve our vision for America’s present and future.
Should the Republican tax plan have the expected negative effect of failing to address our most urgent needs, the American people will have to replace this Republican-led Congress with a Democratic one in November 2018.
We must stop our nation’s leaders from continuing to ignore solutions to our most important problems and passing along their unpaid mortgage invoices to our children and grandchildren.
Steven R. Rothman of Englewood, a Democrat, is the former U.S. congressman who represented New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District from 1997 to 2013.