Donald Trump’s proposed US-Mexican Border Wall has generated a great number of heated exchanges between anti-wall and pro-wall factions while producing a plethora of varying reaction across the political spectrum. Although the ability of “the Wall” to keep criminal elements and illegal immigrates at bay is questionable, paying for Trump’s Wall, however, appears to be the most contentious aspect. The Trump Administration’s attempt to hijack a standard funding bill to fund his Wall had even threatened to shut the federal government down. In the scope of a nearly 4 trillion dollar budget, the Wall is a small line item, but the effort to circumvent public debate and short-circuit the legislative process has serious implications.
Given the Trump Administration is also trying to press forward with major health and tax reforms, how it handles a Trump priority like the Wall says a great deal. It appears the President may be more interested in his objectives instead of developing public policy solutions that address the collective interests of the America People. Too often, elected officials impose public policy prescriptions, which are derived from their political rhetoric and the influence of special interests, onto the nation instead of engineering public policy solutions based on the input of those affected by the desired policy shifts. Draining the swamp was Trump’s priority during the 2016 President Election, yet his push to find viable political strategies to reach his goals, e.g. the Wall and tax reforms, do not seem to even honor the right of the majority to be heard.
The US tax code has become a mechanism to redistribute the wealth of the United States. Absent a progressive tax code, which evenly distributes the burden, versus cost, of government, the tax code would place an enormous burden on those who cannot afford, which hinders their ability to improve their economic standing and later take on more of the burden, while easing the burden of those who can afford it better, which allows them an greater competitive economic advantage. Tax credits for families and corporations amounting to more than what they paid into the system are overt examples of redistribution, yet military and other government spending has always uplifted select communities. How government spending is paid for determines the distorting effects the US government has on the US economy.
Today, the US government has the largest budget of any other government with the biggest debt of any nation in history. Although the US has also had the world’s largest economy for more a century, it is one of the least taxed economies of the world. Since the rise of Reaganomics, the US has increasingly fueled an explosion of government spending with a mounting supply of the fake asset called debt. This has enabled more affluent individuals and businesses to exchange their tax bills for IOU’s, which are to be repaid by future generations. Instead of honestly confronting the fiscal reality of the Federal Budget, Trump’s tax reform priorities appear to further ease the social responsibility of affluent individuals and businesses who benefit the most from the US economy while placing a greater burden on those already struggling along with future generations..
While the desire to simplify the tax code, including through a long overdue increase in the “standard deduction,” and lower the overall tax rate are commendable goals, the reduction for affluent individuals and businesses is far too generous. Raising the “Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit” as a sweeter may help Trump garner public support for his priorities, but it is a form of wealth redistribution that subsidizes low wages and adds to the Deficit. Eliminating the deduction for employer sponsored health insurance will, of course, imperil the healthcare of most Americans. Lower overall rates will, in turn, offer employers a giveaway without requiring them to do something that is beneficial to society. Because Trump’s tax priorities mirrors the same thinking that created the current issues in the tax code, e.g. “starve the beast” and Trickle Down Theory, they will exasperate the problem.
It is important to recognize that the successful implementation of Trickle Down Theory would essentially return the US to the patronage economy of Medieval and pre-modern Europe. Today’s Bachs and Mozarts would do quite well, but America’s peasant class, i.e. the majority, would not. Policies that do not address and conflict with the collective interests of the majority cannot survive. They simply become contentious issues that rip the country apart. They must, first, want to make a public policy change then, second, want the best option presented to them. Like so many before him, Donald Trump is telling Americans to accept the one choice he hands them instead of holding out for a better option. Even if the Trump administration manages to force its public policies down the throats of the American People, they will be nothing more than poison pills that will nauseate Americans so badly that they will have to be expelled one way or another.
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