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Now we know the horrible truth about Trump’s so-called ‘stimulus’

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David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

A gold-plated tax giveaway infected the coronavirus relief bill that Donald Trump signed into law on March 27, Congressional Democrats complained loudly last month.

The Democrats got it wrong. The plating turns out to be pure platinum.

Almost 82% of the tax savings will go to the Trump-Kushner family and 43,000 of their fellow millionaire landlords. This rich and officially favored slice of American society consists of fewer than one in 3,550 taxpayers.

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These millionaires will be excused from paying $70.3 billion in taxes out of the $86 billion the law forgives.

The savings go to real estate investors like the extended Trump-Kushner family. The provision removes limits on how much in tax benefits they can enjoy each year.

The figures were issued Tuesday by Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Two Democrats, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, requested the analysis of who benefits based on income, known as a distribution table.

Using the official data, I calculate that on average each benefitting millionaire will be excused from paying $1.6 million of income taxes.

Think about how many years it takes you to earn enough to owe $1.6 million in taxes. Depending on your tax situation, you’d need an annual income of $4.3 million to $8 million. This is the level of income in need of the most pandemic relief, the actions of that Trump & Co. prove.

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Now let’s look at the comparatively parsimonious relief for the vast majority of Americans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act benefits. Trump and the radical Republicans made sure to minimize their benefits as at least 17 million Americans jobs went poof.

The most you will get is $1,200 plus $500 per child under age 17.

Democrats wanted broader and larger aid, but Trump and the radical Republicans were so stingy that they denied any help to students 17 and older, even if they are not claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns.

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If you make more than $75,000 your relief check starts shrinking. Once your income reaches $99,000 you get nothing. For married couples, double those income numbers.

What a revealing policy:

  • minimal benefits for 80% of Americans
  • no benefits for those making $99,000 to $1 million
  • lavish benefits for capitalists making more than $1 million.

That brings into clear focus the Marie “let them eat cake” Antoinette policies of Donald Trump and the radical Republicans. Their policies are giving a fortune to rich lanlords, crumbs for the vast majority of Americans and nothing for the one in five households making between $100,000 and $1 million from work.

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Then there’s the cavalier attitude of  Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary whose wife played the last French queen in a movie and who got super-rich from evicting people harmed in the 2008 mortgage scandals that collapsed the economy.

Mnuchin says Americans don’t need more than $1,200 to get by for a few months. Here is Mnuchin’s exchange on CBS Face The Nation with host Margaret Brennan two days after Trump signed the coronavirus relief bill:

Mnuchin: It’s really bridge liquidity for people as they go through these difficult times.

Brennan: Bridge liquidity for about eight weeks?

Mnuchin: Well, I-, I think the entire package provides economic relief overall for about 10 weeks.

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You can read the entire interview, which more fully reveals Mnuchin’s  obliviousness. But then what should we expect from a former Goldman Sachs, former hedge fund manager and pal of felon financier Michael Milken?

Mnuchin is a swamp dweller who used his position as Treasury secretary to  order up an Air Force jet so he and his actress wife could get a prime view of a solar eclipse,  sticking you, fellow taxpayer, with the bill. He claimed he really needed the jet to inspect the gold at Fort Knox, wink wink.

Of course that’s small beer compared to the $133 million taxpayers spent on Trump golf trips so far, with a potential $340 million taxpayer cost of Trump’s golf trips. Don’t forget that candidate Trump vowed to never play golf and seldom leave the White House so he could fulfill all his campaign promises.

While people like Mnuchin and Trump live large on the taxpayer’s hard earned bucks and then arrange fortunes in personal tax benefits, the median wage in America is only $933 a week. That’s gross pay, by the way, not take-home pay.

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One in four workers makes less than $15,000 annually, indicating they have part-time employment. And only one in four makes more than $60,000.

In many areas of the country an income of $60,000 is, for a family of four, below the new poverty measure called ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, which I first wrote about more than five years ago.

ALICE describes the vast numbers of Americans who work, but have little or no savings because they need every dollar of take home pay just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Just four days after Trump signed the CARES Act, with its bonanza for real estate owners like himself, MSNBC’s Katy Tur aired video of long lines of cars lined up on roads approaching food banks, lines that have grown and grown since then.

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But worry not. Trump, through his Treasury secretary, has decided you’re getting plenty to live on for ten weeks, it’s just nowhere near enough for him and his kin.

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