Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

This is Class War. Time to Act Like It

The Trump tax plan is an unprecedented attack on working class people. We must organize against the tax cuts for billionaires using working class tactics.

Facebook Twitter Share

Image from Salon

The Trump administration is nearing a badly needed legislative victory after the embarrassing failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Amid the continued Russia probe — with Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI — the Republican party galvanized enough support to come a step closer to passing the largest tax cut for corporations in recent decades. In a 51-49 vote, the Senate approved Trump’s desired tax plan.

It is described as an “act of class war,” not only by Left Voice authors, but also by the capitalist media. The New York Times Editorial says, “the Senate passed a tax bill confirming that the Republican leaders’ primary goal is to enrich the country’s elite at the expense of everybody else, including future generations who will end up bearing the cost.”

The bill was rushed through the Senate, as the Republicans found themselves desperate to get something done. On November 28, the bill left the Senate Committee. Three days later, at 2 am on Saturday, December 2, the bill passed the Senate. A 500-page long document, the bill had not been analyzed in depth and was largely inaccessible to the larger public before the Senate voted. Furthermore, just before the vote, Senators continued to receive hand-written, last-minute addendums to the bill — many of which were impossible to decipher.

What transpired on the Senate floor flies in the face of democratic processes. It is a slap in the face to the American people, who were not given a chance to even know what was in the bill before it was rammed through the Senate at 2 am. The Republicans have made clear that they don’t care what anyone thinks about their bill and they don’t even want to put up a facade of democracy. They want only a legislative victory for Christmas.

The major tenet of the Senate bill, slightly different from the one passed in the House of Representatives, is the tax breaks for the wealthy. Both reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. The bill also raises taxes for people making $30,000 and less per year, and in 10 years, it would raise taxes for everyone making $75,000 or less. According to the Joint Committee of Taxation, this would reduce federal revenues by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Lily Batchelder, a New York University professor says, “The bill is investing heavily in the wealthy and their children — by boosting the value of their stock portfolios, creating new loopholes for them to avoid tax on their labor income, and cutting taxes on massive inheritances.”

In order to get this bill passed, the Republicans in the Senate included all sorts of provisions that don’t have too much to do with taxes. These include:

-A nod to the pro-life movement, reminding everyone that Republicans are waging a war against women. The bill refers to a college savings account for “unborn children.”

-The bill lifts the ban on churches (and other non-profits) from participating in politics. This would mean that churches could legally fund political parties.

-It permits oil and gas drilling in protected areas in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge — an area that Gwich’in indigenous people live, as well as the home to endangered species such as caribou, polar bears and muskoxen. This land represents 5% of artic Alaska which is not open to oil and fracking companies; the other 95% is open thanks to provisions made under the Carter administration in the 80’s. This part of the bill is a clear nod to Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), one of the Republicans who threw a wrench in the Obamacare repeal.

-After the failure to repeal Obamacare and replace it with yet another, worse system, the tax plan also takes a swipe at the Affordable Care Act, ending the individual mandate from that forces people to purchase insurance.

Because slightly different versions of the tax bill passed both the House and the Senate, the conference committee made up of Congressional Republicans will meet to reconcile these differences. The bill will then be sent back to the House and Senate for full votes. Lastly, it will be sent to President Trump to sign into law. Some of the differences bewteen the two plans are:

– Education: the House wants to cut the $250 deduction for teachers who buy their own supplies, while the Senate voted to increase this number to $500.
Estate tax: the House proposes to eliminating the estate tax, while the Senate proposes doubling the exemption level. At current rates, only 0.2% of the population has to pay an estate tax.

– Healthcare: the House bill eliminated the deduction for health expenses that exceed 10% of someone’s adjusted gross income. The Senate bill proposes to bring this down to 7.5%– but only for two years.

– The Senate bill has 7 tax brackets, while the House bill has four.

– The House bill does not pass the Byrd Rule, while the Senate plan does, barely. The Byrd rule allows certain budgets to pass the Senate with a simple majority, rather than the 60 person majority usually required. The catch is that the budget is not allowed to add to the deficit after 10 years. The new conference committee tax compromise would have to pass the Byrd Rule in order to pass the Senate. (More information about this here

Trump has said that he wants the bill on his desk before Christmas, which seems like a likely scenario. However, there is still time to fight back. As Trump’s popularity drops and the Russian investigation creeps closer, we can still defeat this bill, although it will be an uphill battle.

What will the consequences of this be?

The Republicans, who have always been obsessed with the national debt (except when voting for the military budget), have suddenly decided to ignore it in order to pass this tax bill, which would add 1.5 trillion to the debt over the next decade.

However, the Republicans have only temporarily shifted their attention away from the debt. They are sure to become concerned with the issue again when it comes to social security, healthcare, education and other social services. Marco Rubio said this explicitly in an interview: “We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.” In other words, tax cuts for the rich and at the same time, cutting services for most of the American people.

The DSA facebook page expresses the dire consequences of the Republican victory:
The rich will get richer.
The poor will get poorer.
The debt will get higher. So they’ll call for cuts.
They will take your education.
They will take your healthcare.
They will take your social security.
They will take everything until there’s nothing left to take -unless we fight back.

The Resistance

As is to be expected, the general thrust of the strategy by the Democrats was to call your Senator to urge them to vote “no” on the tax plan. The impotence of this strategy is exceedingly clear, as the Republicans pass the tax plan without blinking an eye. Only one Republican voted against it.

Why wouldn’t they? The Republican National Committee is racking up record high donations. As Newsweek correctly states, “Trump gives rich donors massive tax cuts, then asks them for campaign donations.” How much effect does a phone call have compared to millions of dollars for a reelection campaign? Passive resistance via facebook or even a phone call is insufficient.

There were some mobilizations against the tax plan, usually numbering a few dozen to a few hundred. There were campus walkouts across the country, particularly as the Senate bill threatened to consider tuition costs as taxable income.

I love #NYC. @realDonaldTrump gets a welcome to @Cipriani on 42nd St this AM from @riseandresistny. Let’s see which cities and towns can up the ante. No safe harbor for any Republican. Follow them home, to their offices, to their watering holes. No justice. No peace. #TaxScamBill pic.twitter.com/TbJgLipU48

— Gregg Gonsalves (@gregggonsalves) December 2, 2017

This is a class war. Time for us to Act like it

Throughout history, capitalists and their politicians have waged class war against the workers. This tax plan is an act of class war and a naked expression of the policies put forward by Democrats and Republicans that have allowed the wealth gap in the US to climb to exorbitant rates. Since the 1950’s, the top 1% has doubled its share of the national income from less than 10% to more than 20%.

During the past few decades, this war has become an asymmetrical one, characterized by capitalist attacks against the working class. It is time to fight back. We must urge our unions to organize against this tax plan. We must call on left organizations — the DSA, the ISO, and Socialist Alternative, to name a few — to organize mobilizations on the streets as well as in every workplace and place of study. We must take to the streets with environmental groups, women’s groups, workers organizations, and unions to fight this; it is an attack on all of us.

And, given that this is class war, it is time to remember and reclaim the weapons of class struggle: protests, pickets, and strikes. The wealthy have their own political parties to do their dirty work. We must organize ourselves against the capitalists and their tax cuts using our own tactics, our own strategy, and our own working class party.

Facebook Twitter Share

Tatiana Cozzarelli

Tatiana is a former middle school teacher and current Urban Education PhD student at CUNY.

Luigi Morris

Luigi is a freelance photographer, socialist journalist and videographer. He is an activist for immigrants' rights.

Twitter Instagram

United States

Detroit protesters hold green banner that says "DTE" Affordable Renewable Energy Now

Detroiters Say ‘Hell No!’ to DTE’s Proposed Electricity Rate Hike

Detroiters are confronting regulators who are deciding whether private utilities can extract more profits from the working class during energy, inflation, housing, and climate crises.

Lee Palmer

September 20, 2022
US President Joe Biden stands in a suit wearing a mask, but is taking off one side of it.

Despite What Biden Says, the Pandemic Isn’t Over

Joe Biden and the bourgeoisie may be ready for the pandemic to be over, but that doesn’t mean Covid-19 has gone away.

Olivia Wood

September 20, 2022
Image of the Capitol building in grey scale with a turquoise semi-transparent overlay towards the left and a white semi-transparent overlay to the bottom right of it, overlapping slightly.

Polarization, Economic Crisis, and Class Struggle: The Contradictions of the Political Moment

From the resurgence of the Democratic party to the advance of the Right to the potential of Generation U, it is evident that we are in a moment of instability and heightened polarization in the midst of a burgeoning economic crisis and rising labor movement. The Left must take the opportunities presented by the current moment and turn them into advances for our movement.

Ezra Brain

September 18, 2022
In the center foreground, a Black person with gray close shaved hair wearing an orange t shirt wipes their face with their hand. In the background are pallets of water bottles and people are moving them.

Environmental Racism Leads to Water Crisis in Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi, a city whose population is more than 80 percent Black, has been without clean reliable water for days, adding to the ongoing water issues due to decades of neglect and divestment.

Molly Rosenzweig

September 2, 2022

MOST RECENT

Vigil in South Korea against femicide (post-it notes on a wall)

Femicide in South Korea: The State and Bosses Are Responsible

The recent murder of a woman who worked for Seoul Metro shows the dangers faced by women workers in Korea. The working class must organize against femicide and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Youngmi Lee

October 5, 2022
Union leaders are joined by community group representatives, elected officials and social activists for a rally in support of unionization efforts by Amazon workers in the state of Alabama on March 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - Workers and organizers are pushing for what would be one of the biggest victories for labor in the United States over the past few decades if successful in the first Amazon warehouse union election in Bessemer, Alabama, where worker's ballots must reach the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board by March 29 to be counted.

‘We Need a Labor Movement That’s a Lot More Militant and Willing to Challenge the Status Quo’: An Interview with Joe Burns

Joe Burns, director of collective bargaining with the CWA-AFA union, discusses his new book, Class Struggle Unionism, and the importance of a militant labor movement.

Left Voice

October 4, 2022
A Pakistani man wades through flood waters carrying a bit bag of produce.

‘It’s Time to Declare War on This Climate-Destroying System!’: Interview with a Pakistani Socialist about the Flood

The flood in Pakistan is one of the most horrific climate events in recent history. A Pakistani socialist describes the consequences of the disaster, as well as the economic crises facing the country.

Maxi Schulz

October 3, 2022

Lula Finishes Ahead of Bolsonaro, but the Elections Will Be Decided in the Second Round

Lula and the PT came out on top in the first round of Brazil’s elections, but it’s far from clear that their conciliatory program can stop the Right.

André Barbieri

October 2, 2022