Tax reform plan a ‘bid to make US inequality champion’

tax reform

Tax reform

A UN rights expert has issued a damning report on the state of the US under Donald Trump, saying the Republican president’s tax reform plan “stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in world” and “will greatly increase” income inequality.

Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and rights, made the comments on Friday, after visiting US cities and states to examine the level of homelessness and poverty facing the country.

The proposed tax reform plan “is essentially a bid to make the US the world champion of extreme inequality”, Alston said in his preliminary report.

Alston’s visit to California, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Washington, DC, came in the shadows of a major tax overhaul in Congress.

Republicans released their final tax bill on Friday night, saying they “have the votes” to get it passed next week.

The bill has been championed by Trump, who on Friday congratulated Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, the chairman of the Ways and Means House Committee, for signing the final conference agreement on the proposed tax reform legislation.

If passed, the bill would be the largest tax overhaul since the 1980s.

The plan would drop the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent and 21 percent. It would also lower the rates for most of the seven tax brackets, including dropping the top bracket from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, according to the Republican summary.

Does the US suffer from extreme poverty?

The cuts are projected to add about $1.46 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, which is just shy of the $1.5 trillion the bill is allowed to cost.

According to Alston, “the lack of public debate, the closed nature of the negotiation, the exclusion of the representatives of almost half of the American people from the process and the inability of elected representatives to know any detail they are being asked to vote for, all raise major concerns”.

He added that “one of the overriding concerns … is the enormous impetus given to income and wealth inequality by the proposed reforms”.

Social welfare cuts ‘likely to be fatal’

Earlier this month, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans will focus on reducing spending on federal healthcare and social programs to help reduce the country’s deficit.

In his report, Alston warned that “the dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the president and Speaker [Paul] Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of safety net that is already full of holes”.


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