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Gazette opinion: New GOP proposal is easily the most un-Republican tax plan ever

Gazette opinion: New GOP proposal is easily the most un-Republican tax plan ever

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For a moment -- if possible -- set aside the case of Roy Moore and excuse any chatter about President Donald J. Trump being named Time's "Person of the Year."

Instead, we'd like think about the best of the Republican Party. Here are some of the things that come to our minds -- spending government money responsibly; smart business principles; compassionate care; and the understanding that more money in citizens' pockets means more prosperity for everyone.

That's why it's hard to imagine a bill more un-Republican than the one Congress is trying to rush through by the end of this week. 

Instead, this bill does nothing but appeal to the worst instincts of the party. The Republican tax plan would hand out tax breaks to the richest of Americans and large corporations, while doing little for the average citizen or small business. Republicans constantly complain that framing taxation in a rich-versus-poor dichotomy encourages class warfare. But when a proposal calls for substantial breaks for the wealthiest while hurting the poorest, it's not just class warfare, it's the truth.

Two separate analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have come to similar conclusions -- that this plan hurts those who can least afford it.

Even worse, the plan essentially borrows money to give these hand-outs by growing the American debt by as much as $1.5 trillion (with a "t") during the next 10 years.

Any Republican who is truly fiscally conservative would never agree that going into debt to give tax breaks is a prudent course of action. Using even the most basic of business principles, a business wouldn't mortgage itself for nothing. And this tax bill isn't about going into debt to invest in America, it's about helping those earning more than $100,000 per year, according to CBO.

So much for compassionate conservatism because this new plan makes health care nearly unobtainable for lower-income families. Because poor people would receive less government aid, it would mean that they would have to pay out-of-pocket for health insurance, making it all but unreachable. 

Assuming that someone struggling to make ends meet could opt out of health insurance, and have a little extra cash, any extra money would be eaten up if he or she made a single trip to the doctor. Or their kids. Or their spouse. God forbid if someone needs a prescription without insurance. 

This would re-create the situation we faced before the Affordable Care Act in which residents without health care would be forced into emergency rooms for expensive care. That care would mean some of Billings' largest employers, like the Billings Clinic and St. Vincent would realize huge losses. Those losses would be borne by those remaining few who have insurance; they, in turn, would see premiums sky rocket again.

Most Republicans in Congress seem unfazed by the brazen rewards in this tax plan for the rich. In fact, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, argued that if a family or individual chooses not to buy insurance, it's their decision. This completely and intentionally ignores the fact that most people making less than $50,000 will not be able to afford the premiums. Yeah, kind of like the choice not to buy a Ferrari -- it's not a choice if you don't have the money in the first place.

Republicans like Hatch would have you believe that paying for health insurance is something as trivial as buying an extra pair of sneakers or splurging on a weekend get-a-way to Las Vegas. 

We'd point out that the Republicans have done everything in their power to dismantle health care by cutting subsidies, cutting mandates and acting as if health insurance is a luxury item.

We were pleased to learn that Montana's Sen. Steve Daines has announced that he cannot support the current bill because it doesn't help small Montana businesses while giving plenty of help to huge multinational businesses. 

That's the thing about this bill: There's plenty of things not to like. 

We may not agree with Daines on all issues, or even exactly on why the current tax bill is bad; however, we believe this bill will harm Montanans -- and that's really the important part.

We support Daines' opposition of what is a terrible tax bill. And, we believe there are ways to improve the federal tax system. But we cannot agree to continue to add to our grandchildren's debt while getting nothing in return. We also believe it's morally bankrupt to understand that devastation that will happen by dismantling healthcare, and continue anyway -- as if poor folks will really have the cash to afford rising healthcare costs.

The rich don't just get richer in this bill. The poor don't just get poorer. The rich get something they don't need while the poor could lose everything they have.


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