The idea of resisting taxation without representation is as old as the Republic itself. As a matter of fact, resisting “taxation without representation” is one of the founding principles of this nation. Article I Section 8 Paragraph 1 of the Constitution states that Congress “shall have power to lay and collect Taxes…” As a consequence, the U.S. Senate passed tax legislation this weekend. On the surface it would appear that Congress is just following through on its legislative role under the Constitution. The fact that the House of Representatives passed its version of the Trump Tax Bill first is also constitutional.
The Constitution states that all bills raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives. Writers of the Constitution were aware of taxation without representation. Therefore, they place the beginning of every tax debate within the chamber considered to be on the pulse of the people. One must ask who’s being represented by this tax legislation. Framers of the Constitution theorized that the House would be responsive to district constituents. The new tax legislation is one of the most unpopular bills in the history of the nation. Yet, it is being rushed through Congress without debate on party line votes because Republicans are appealing to a horizontal constituency rather than a vertical constituency. A vertical constituency refers to district concerns. A horizontal constituency refers to interests outside of the district that have an undo influence on elected member of Congress. In this case the horizontal constituency refers to wealthy election campaign donors. One need only to see that the corporate tax rate will permanently be reduced from 35 percent to 20 percent. Middle income tax cuts are temporary. Also, the tax deductions that middle income tax payers depend on are being reduced or eliminated. Moreover, the Trump tax bill is will add to the deficit, which will increase the national debt.
David Stockman wrote a book entitled The Triumph of Politics: Failure of the Reagan Revolution. Stockman was Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget that is a key budgetary position in any administration. The core of the Reagan Revolution was a tax cut. The problem with massive tax cuts for the wealthy is that Congress does adjust its spending on pet projects for the purpose of constituent services and reelection. Stockman’s agitation was with the inability of Congress, including Republicans, to curtail spending. “Tax cuts” has long been a favorite mantra for Republicans. Coupled with tax cuts is the constant call for deficit reduction. Of course, the way one cuts the deficit is to reduce spending. The Gramm Rudman Hollings Act was passed during the Reagan Administration with the intent of having a zero deficit by the year 1991. However, based on tax cuts and continued spending, the deficit tripled by 1991. One trick Republicans like use regarding tax cut is to shift unpopular cuts to state governments. Such cuts apply to Medicaid and higher education. As such, members of Congress can take credit for reducing taxes while not being accountable for the pain. Given the massive tax cuts in the Trump tax bill, the social safety net that has been a hallmark of America since Franklin Roosevelt will come under severe assault from the Republican Party.
President Bush also pushed through tax cuts that added to the deficit. As it pertains to the deficit, Republicans are extremely hypocritical. For example, Republicans will increase deficits through tax cuts that, in turn, increase the debt. After the debt is increased, Republicans will then shut down the government or threaten to not increase the debt ceiling. If precedence is any guide, one can only conclude that an unbridled Republican Party is not good for the economy. On February 13, 2008 President Bush signed into law the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. The act provided for a rebate check of $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples. The administration realized that the economy was in trouble. However, the stimulus was too little too late. An economic meltdown could not be averted. The temporary tax cuts for everyday Americans will not be enough to stimulate the economy. The time is not to brace for an economic downturn.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he published a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”