Old Scrooge, before he repented, thought the poor and disabled might as well die and reduce the surplus population. He would have loved this tax bill, which is likely to reduce the surplus population by, among other things, reducing access to chemotherapy for Medicare patients with cancer.
The tax bill also eliminates tax deductions for medical expenses. You might call that the Tiny Tim deduction:
“According to an analysis in January from the Joint Committee on Taxation, most taxpayers who claim the deduction have incomes below $100,000, with about 40 percent below $75,000. More than half of those who claim it are older than 65, according to AARP, the lobby for older Americans. They often face staggering medical and long-term care costs.
“The deduction also helps younger families struggling to pay the enormous cost of caring for children with chronic conditions or disabilities…” (New York Times, 11/8/17)
And what an appropriate time of year for the Republican Congress to pass this tax cut – a gift to the truly deserving among us, or rather above us.
Scrooge’s nephew, that carefree and unserious young man, told him:
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Along with old Scrooge, the tax bill proponents say, “Bah, humbug!” to that sentiment. Their bill benefits the truly deserving – those who already have high incomes and wealth.
In 2018, the tax cut would produce some benefit for people at all levels – an average of 0.5 percent to 1.2 percent income increase for taxpayers in the bottom 95 percent. If you are earning minimum wage, you wouldn’t get anything, because your income is already too low to pay income taxes – though you do pay social security, Medicare and sales taxes. If you earn $50,000 a year, your increase would be about $500. The big winners, though, are those with the biggest incomes – someone earning a million dollars a year would get an 8.5 percent increase or about $85,000, according to the Tax Policy Center analysis:
“Taxpayers in the top 1 percent (incomes above $730,000), would receive about 50 percent of the total tax benefit; their after-tax income would increase an average of 8.5 percent. Between 2018 and 2027, the average tax cut as a share of after-tax income would fall for all income groups other than the top 1 percent.” (Tax Policy Center report)
After 2018, the benefits for anyone in the bottom 95 percent of Americans evaporate, with some actually seeing tax increases. Only the top five percent – and especially the top one percent – continue to get big benefits.
The medical deduction, used by about 8.8 million Americans every year, benefits mostly middle income and older Americans with huge medical and long-term care costs. The give-more-to-the-rich schemes embedded in this tax bill are disgusting enough – but the health-threatening and life-threatening cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and medical deductions are truly horrifying.
The Trumps and Scrooges will be laughing all the way to the bank.