In the weeks surrounding this High Holiday season, President Donald Trump has brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster, assaulted First Amendment rights, called some of the most vile anti-Semites and racists “fine” people, endorsed a homophobic religious fanatic racist for the U.S. Senate, exacerbated racial tensions, invoked phony patriotism, dramatically raised the cost of health care for millions of low-income Americans, and spread lies with alacrity.
As Jews were going to synagogue for Kol Nidre, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price became the 14th senior administration official to get the boot in only nine months – certainly a presidential record. Trump said he didn’t like the “optics” of Price spending $400,000 on private jet travel (a contagious problem in this administration). Price was already in big trouble because he failed to win quick Congressional approval for repealing Obamacare.
Trump needed to cut health care coverage for millions of Americans to pay for his next debacle – massive tax cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy, including himself — if he even pays taxes at all.
Trump responded quickly to natural disasters in two predominately white “red” states that voted for him in November but dragged his feet when it came to Hispanic Americans in Puerto Rico, who have no electoral votes. In his defense, he probably didn’t know Puerto Ricans are American citizens and seemed to just discover that they live on an island.
Puerto Ricans didn’t get the same priority as victims in Texas and Florida. On a day when Puerto Ricans were scrounging for food, water and shelter, Trump was busy playing golf at his New Jersey club and tweeting out 20 attacks on the NFL – part of a 35-year-old feud because the league repeatedly rejected his efforts to buy a franchise — but not a single word about Puerto Rico.
Eventually, he took time from playing golf to launch a bitter Twitter attack on the mayor of San Juan, whose own home was destroyed and was living in a shelter, because she had the temerity to criticize the federal relief effort.
Trump’s top Jewish aides, economic advisor Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, also known as the White House branch of Goldman Sachs, used the High Holiday week to unveil the administration’s new tax reform plan, which would make them and their boss even wealthier.
But their claims that the middle class wouldn’t see tax hikes under their plan were widely rejected by independent tax experts, fact checkers and economists. Cohn eventually admitted that he “can’t guarantee” that the middle class won’t actually pay more.
Trump himself would see his own tax bill cut by more than $1.1 billion under his own proposal, according to a New York Times analysis. That assumes, of course, that he even pays taxes at all. He said, “I don’t benefit.” You will have to take his word on that, and his word is not very reliable. Accounting and tax experts cited by the Times said “high income earners like Mr. Trump are likely to benefit disproportionately” if his proposal becomes law.
The administration plan repeals two taxes — the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax — that only wealthy Americans like Trump, Cohn and Mnuchin pay.
Before Congress takes up consideration of the president’s tax reform plan it should demand that he follow the example of all his predecessors back to Richard Nixon by publicly releasing his tax returns. Only in that way can taxpayers and their representatives in the Congress know the real impact of President’s proposals.