Abigail Disney: Don’t Cut Taxes Of Rich People, Like Me

By Abigail Disney

An attempt at so-called tax reform like the current one that recently passed the Senate can be dressed up in the rational-sounding language of economics and finance, but tax policy is always, at its heart, an expression of our nation’s shared values and priorities. And the values expressed by this bill are unrecognizable to me as a woman raised in a deeply conservative family, committed with an almost religious fervor to the idea of the American Dream.

I can’t sit idly by and pretend that people of my class are not, by deception and chicanery, looking to augment their already absurd wealth and power by way of this tax reform process.


Join Abigail Disney and Sign her petition to tell Congress: Don’t Cut Taxes for Rich People Like Me. 


Since the election of Ronald Reagan, the gap between rich and poor has grown dramatically and “trickle down” economics has turned out to cause more of, in the words of Warren Buffet, an “upward gusher.” Inequality has grown at an alarming rate since the first intrusion of the supply side narrative into the American economic landscape, and even so nothing has brought the problem of inequality into sharper focus for me than the current proposals by Republicans to overhaul the tax system.

This plan will benefit corporations and the wealthy disproportionately, while shifting the burden of a crumbling social safety net and infrastructure onto an already strained middle class.
The process has been rash, ill-conceived and opaque — all the things legislation of this much consequence should never be. And why? The hurry is purely political: Republicans badly need some sort of win for their benefactors, and they need it soon.

And undercover of all this hurry and obfuscation more the 600 lobbyists have had their crack at the tax code, ensuring breaks for such transparently elite items as private jets and pass-through private businesses. What is worse, the extremely generous, more than 30% tax break for corporations will be permanent, while any breaks for individuals will sunset in ten years.

This deeply flawed process has offered cover for some stealth social engineering by the right wing that would never pass muster in the clear light of day. The estate tax exemption, which as it currently stands only affect 0.2% of estates in any given year, will more than double, rendering it nearly meaningless. And contributions to 529 savings accounts for FETUSES will be deductible, setting an absurd, and unconstitutional precedent for fetal personhood, a concept overwhelmingly rejected by the American electorate.


Join Abigail Disney and Sign her petition to tell Congress: Don’t Cut Taxes for Rich People Like Me. 


Taxes for corporations will be drastically cut on the theory that this will repatriate huge amounts of capital and spur growth. But no one has yet adequately explained why corporations which are currently sitting on mountains of cash and breaking records on the stock market are in need of any such stimulus, especially given that job openings have never been more plentiful.

What are not plentiful are protections for workers and adequate wages. The argument that tax relief for corporations will result in investments in new jobs and higher wages is belied by the fact that virtually no CEO has been willing to go on record saying that that is where their windfall will go. Rather, that money will in all likelihood be spent the same way it was spent during the last “tax holiday” in 2004, on share buybacks and dividends, most of which will benefit mostly, sing it with me, the one percent.

There are tax savings for middle and working-class people in this bill, but they will be meager at best and will mostly be negated by the loss of some very important deductions on the disingenuous assertion that this tax reform is an attempt at “simplification.” Working class people will lose their deduction for state taxes, for mortgages, for interest on student loans, on tuition waivers and on unreimbursed employee expenses. Not one of these deductions matters a whit on a high bracket tax return.


Join Abigail Disney and Sign her petition to tell Congress: Don’t Cut Taxes for Rich People Like Me. 


What all this amounts to is another 1 to 1.5 trillion dollars in debt. Republicans argue that unleashed economic growth will bring this bill to revenue neutrality, but of 38 economists polled by the New York Times, only 1 thought such an outcome remotely possible. We have heard this song before, during the Reagan administration and once again during the administration of George W Bush. And the song always has the same ending, crumbling infrastructure, un-American income and wealth inequality, and crushing debt and deficits.

The only thing that will be stimulated by this bill will be the bank accounts of the richest among us and the brazenness with which they will spend those funds on yet further bending the political system to their will.

An attempt at so-called tax reform like the current one can be dressed up in the rational-sounding language of economics and finance, but tax policy is always, at its heart, an expression of our nation’s deepest shared values and priorities. The values expressed by this bill are unrecognizable to me as a woman raised in a deeply conservative family, committed with an almost religious fervor to the idea of the American Dream.

I can’t sit idly by and pretend that people of my class are not, by deception and chicanery, looking to augment their already absurd wealth and power by way of this tax reform process.


Join Abigail Disney and Sign her petition to tell Congress: Don’t Cut Taxes for Rich People Like Me. 


Abigail Disney is an award winning filmmaker, activist and philanthropist.  Her most recent film is The Armor of Light, which won an Emmy.   Ms. Disney is on the Board of Directors of Auburn Seminary.

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