Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon championed tax cuts for the wealthy — and sharp budget cuts — in the years before the Great Depression. (Treasury Department photo)
The Senate passed its tax bill early Saturday morning. And, it turns out, Indian Country might have been worried about the wrong, Andrew. Andrew Jackson? No. Because the Republican tax plan would make one Andrew Mellon proud.
This is Trahant Reports.
Andrew Mellon was a wealthy industrialist who served as the Secretary of Treasury. President Trump’s own Treasury Department describes his tenure this way: “During the nation’s “most materialistic period in its history Mellon’s philosophy was one of debt reduction, tax reduction, and a balanced budget … His theory was that big business would prosper in proportion to the lightening of its tax load and its profit would be transferred to the rest of the Nation.
The Great Depression blew a hole in that idea. And if history is prologue, well, this all sounds familiar.
Now the House and the Senate have passed legislation to sharply reduce taxes with the idea that business will prosper and transfer its winnings to the rest of the nation.
The conservative wing is honest about this means. They say when the tax cuts result in a massive expansion of debt, they will want sharp budget cuts to follow. This is a core belief. And has been since Mellon’s time.
How bad is the Senate tax bill? It’s right up there as one of the most unpopular bills ever. An average of polling finds support at about one-third of those polled. And, get this, FiveThirtyEight reports that this tax cutting bill is even more unpopular than tax hikes.
A couple of notes about Indian Country: So many tribal citizens are the low end when it comes to earning. This bill does nothing to help. Indeed there was a late night effort to increase tax credits for families with children. It failed because there would have been less money for corporate tax cuts. Nearly half of all Americans don’t pay income tax, it’s the payroll tax that is the burden. So a child credit would have helped ordinary working families.
Instead of turning the dial back on fossil fuels the Senate bill aligns the tax code for more oil and gas development. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has made this her signature.
This bill also strips the mandate to buy health insurance. A win for freedom, right? Perhaps. But it also means that healthy people will not buy as much insurance leaving sicker, older people to pay the bills.
There are a whole cast of winners: Big corporations, rich would-be heirs (like the Trump children) and religious schools (a last minute amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz expanded tax savings for this purpose).
The fight isn’t quite over: This bill will still have to be reconciled with a House version. But cutting taxes (and then the budget) is something Republicans have championed long before Andrew Mellon. So this bill is likely to become law soon.
I am Mark Trahant.