Editor’s Note: Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is executive director and co-founder of MomsRising.org, a nonprofit national organization that supports policies to improve family economic security. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “Keep Marching.” The views expressed here are her own.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: The GOP tax plan is especially harmful to women and families
The plan would grow our national debt while rewarding ultra-rich individuals and corporations, she writes
Tax plans can be hard to decipher, but with each passing day, women and moms across the country understand more clearly how the GOP tax plans — both the US Senate and the House versions – will affect their families and our economy.
At MomsRising, we hear from moms – from Alaska to Alabama – every day and they are telling us they are terrified. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen rumblings of concern turn to full-fledged alarm about what this tax plan will mean for America’s women. Their worries are certainly justified.
The GOP tax plans are the opposite of what women and our economy need. Women in the United States of America are already facing severe economic inequality at the exact same time as the cost of raising children, and the percentage of families who are relying on the wages of women to make ends meet, are rising quickly. Times have changed. For instance, women are now breadwinners in more than half of all families — and are the primary breadwinner in 42% of families, according to Pew; and over the past 30 years, childcare costs for working families have increased by 70%, according to Census Bureau data.
Yet women on average earned just 80 cents to a man’s dollar in 2017, with moms and women of color experiencing increased wage hits. Women are under financial duress even as our purchasing power is needed to fuel our economy. That’s right: The vast majority of purchasing decisions are made by women in our country, where according to the World Bank, 70% of our GDP is now based on consumer spending.
Economic inequality for women is a huge weakness for our nation, and the GOP proposed tax plans in the US House and Senate could turn that disaster into a national calamity.
Want to know who will reap huge rewards under this plan? Ultrawealthy individuals and corporations who aren’t hanging on by a thread. For instance, the top 0.1%, households with incomes over $3.1 million per year, would gain nearly $100,000 in tax cuts a year.
In stark contrast, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates households making $75,000 or less a year, while likely to see modest cuts in the short term, will see a tax increase over the next decade under the Senate bill.
In fact, nonpartisan estimates reported by the National Women’s Law Center found that over 75% of the GOP tax plan’s benefits would go to the wealthiest 20% of households, while the bottom 20% would only receive around 2% of the benefits.
Simply put, women and middle-class families would be further buried by this tax plan. It’s appalling in both the House and Senate versions. It’s a back-door evisceration of the health care coverage voters in every state in our nation have said they need. On childcare and many other measures, it’s grossly insufficient.
The GOP tax plan amounts to a massive wealth shift in an economy that already has massive wealth inequality. Here’s a reality check for the GOP: Our country is now the third worst nation in terms of income inequality — after Chile and Mexico — among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
Because of this rising wealth inequality, MIT economist Peter Temin recently pointed out that we’re regressing to developing nation status. This doesn’t bode well for our future economic success as a country.
One example of how the House and Senate tax plans bolster income inequality is their treatment of “pass through” business income. Although “pass through” tax changes are being sold as a benefit to small businesses and Main Street, it turns out these changes would greatly benefit the already-wealthy – like Donald Trump, who is lobbying for this – while only about 2% of households with incomes below $100,000, the true small business owners, would get any tax benefit at all. In fact, it’s the top 1% who gain the vast majority of the benefit from “pass-throughs.” This isn’t Main Street being helped. This is Wall Street getting a handout.
By doubling down on wealth inequality, the GOP tax plan would jeopardize the health, financial stability, and future of millions of women and families across our country while growing our national debt over the next decade by over $1.3 trillion in the House version; estimates on the Senate bill range from $1.4 to $1.6 trillion, according to the Penn-Wharton Budget Model. It will leave a legacy of debt our children will spend their lives trying to pay off.
The women of America know that it’s not OK to raise taxes for millions of people while gutting essential provisions that boost our access to health care, education and housing, and that fuel our economy. That’s not smart economic policy. We also know that it’s not OK to starve the federal budget in ways that are sure to put Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start and other essential programs on the chopping block.
It’s also not OK to pretend trickle-down economics is going to work now, when it never has before.
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The women of America also know these GOP tax plans don’t reflect our values, don’t recognize our contributions, and don’t boost our economy. Most heartbreaking of all, we know that the GOP tax plan, which is being rushed through even though it’s the most comprehensive tax reform bill in decades, takes an ax to the American dream for many of our children.
Members of Congress who vote to pass the GOP tax plan do so at their own risk. Women are watching, counting this vote, and will remember this at re-election time. It’s time for congressional Republicans to rethink their approach, invest in programs that help reduce income inequality and boost our economy, and open the doors to opportunity, instead of slam them shut.