The New Tax Law: Cementing Policies and Politics of Cruelty, Advancing a FASCIST Political and Ideological Agenda

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


This week, Republicans in both houses of Congress rammed through their final tax bill, and delivered it to Trump to sign and put it into law. Then they gathered at the White House to revel in an ugly-American, predators’ celebration, and to heap praise on Führer Trump.

This bill, the first major change in federal tax law in three decades, is hundreds of pages long, and includes many different, often hidden or complicated provisions. While everything about its provisions and effects are not yet known widely, some major dimensions are clear. You don’t have to be an economist, lawyer, or accountant to understand the basics: this is a blueprint aimed at strengthening the U.S.’s biggest, most predatory capitalists and America’s global economic dominance. At the same time, the law advances policies and politics of cruelty that severely hurt the poor and the most vulnerable sections of society. The new law actually even increases taxes on parts of society like urban areas, liberal states, and universities not part of the fascist social base. Undergirding these politics and policies is an ideology of “personal responsibility,” and a segmentation of society into those who are deemed “contributing and deserving” and those not. This bill is an ugly expression of fascist political aims and a fascist worldview.

The law was deceitfully titled the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Short term, it gives many working and middle class people temporary tax cuts, and it may even buoy the economy. This could be seen as a deliberate move by the Trump/Pence regime and the Republicans to buy acquiescence and support, for this act and for this Trump/Pence regime, and make this poison go down.

In reality, as Raymond Lotta states in the accompanying article, “Three Key Points on the Imperialist—and Fascist—Logic of the Trump Tax Bill,” this bill “will accelerate the upward redistribution and concentration of wealth. The Tax Policy Center has calculated that by 2025, the top one percent of households would receive nearly 85 percent of the total tax reduction.” As Lotta demonstrates, the centerpiece of this bill, the permanent corporate tax cuts, are compelled by competitive imperatives of the capitalist-imperialist class, as perceived by those currently in power. And the countervailing social and economic cost of these cuts is imposed on sections of society in line with the ideology and politics of those currently in power.

Medium term, and in many cases very immediately, the bill will crush many poor people, impoverish millions more, and assault broad swaths of the middle class. It will immediately deal a body blow to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and potentially, healthcare for millions. It will run up massive debt and lay the basis for and trigger further, drastic cuts in society’s already scanty basic social safety net, including Medicare (the government program that defrays costs for medical treatment for the elderly) and Social Security. It will undermine the basis for the public education system—already crumbling in many parts of the country—while favoring private and religious schools. And it will most definitely not reward “hard work.” In other words, the tax cuts for the corporations and the super-wealthy come at a cost: to the poor and the vulnerable.

The Permanent Corporate Tax Cuts and the Temporary Narcotic for the Masses Before the Pain Begins

The Trump/Republican tax law is constructed around a massive tax cut for corporations and businesses, whose tax rates will be cut nearly in half, as well as the ultra-rich. Over the next 10 years, this will transfer $1.5 trillion to America’s biggest exploiters—whose wealth is wrenched from the brutal exploitation of hundreds of millions, in the networks of production and exploitation that span the globe. Note well: this tax cut is permanent.

The tax cuts for the vast majority of people, however, aren’t permanent. They shrink over time and will likely be ended by 2027 when all but the richest will see their taxes rise. A decade from now people making around $50,000 annually, often barely surviving with families, are expected to pay billions more in taxes—while those making a million and more will pay billions less.

These massive corporate tax cuts are expected to increase government debt by an estimated $1 trillion to $2 trillion. This is expected (and may have been deliberately constructed) to trigger deep, automatic spending cuts targeting social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This would push many, many millions, especially Black, Latino and other oppressed or impoverished people, to the edge of survival—or past it. Trump and the Republicans are basically declaring war on almost all the economic concessions of the past 90 years.

Many are denouncing the bill as a “giveaway” to the rich, or greed run amok. Yes, the hideous greed is there for all to see, and the Trump/Pence fascist regime and its Republican cohort are running amok. But as Bob Avakian (BA) analyzed in his prescient analysis, “The Truth About the Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer,” all this springs from and is driven by something much deeper, the very nature and deepest compulsions of the capitalist-imperialist system:

And, in the present period and the present “global environment,” the requirements of the capitalist economic and social system not only demand that the lords of capital be able to carry out their supreme commandment, “let us prey,” in a more unrestrained and more “mobile” way, on a world scale. They also demand, within American society itself, a slashing of major social programs and a heightening of the repressive powers of government, along with the fostering of a repressive social atmosphere. They demand what the organization Refuse and Resist! has called the politics of cruelty, or the politics of poverty, punishment, and patriarchy.

This has been borne out in spades since BA wrote it 20 years ago. As Lotta demonstrates, this Trump/Republican tax bill is aimed at lessening the tax burden on corporations and businesses in order to strengthen their ability to compete and dominate globally. The tax bill encourages investment—but not necessarily creating jobs. And it’s taking place in the context of a massive military buildup and growing threats of war. This is what “Make America Great Again” looks like.

The Fascists’ Upside Down Ideological Attack on the Poor and the Vulnerable

Buttressing this economic assault, is an ideological one—aimed at further shredding cohering governing and social norms: that government is responsible for some kind of “safety net” for people in need. Under assault and eroding for a while, this tax bill represents a further leap in this direction.

First, the dominant Republi-fascist core of the U.S. ruling class has an inherent segmentation of society built into their worldview. They think the corporations and banks, and those who run and own them, are the ones who contribute, and make this society function. And then there are the others... non-contributing and non-deserving. Listen to what some leading Republicans say:

Charles Grassley, senator from Iowa, on giving huge tax cuts to the ultra-rich: “I think not having the estate tax [on estates worth over $11 million] recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Orrin Hatch, senator from Utah, referring to a federal program that allots funds for medical care for nine million children: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Who do they mean when they talk about people who “expect the federal government to do everything”? They mean the people at the bottom, the people who have always caught hell in this system, most especially Black and Brown people. Who are the people Hatch and his ilk think of as “not helping themselves”?

  • They are the 44 million people—most working for poverty wages—who will go hungry without food stamps, or the impoverished families who rely on the earned income tax credit, which is being slashed to the tune of some $19 billion. These are the poor, the partially employed or unemployed, the people struggling to make ends meet while working three jobs, the people left stranded when their factory’s operations move overseas or the mall where they work boards up overnight. These are the people being so grossly demeaned by the “honorable” Senator Grassley.
  • They are people like the manager of a furniture rental store who makes such a pitiful wage, she’s forced to depend on CHIPS (Children’s Health Insurance Program) to pay for healthcare for her two children. The program ran out of funds in September and now Hatch says, there’s “no money” for this $14.5 billion program that gives nine million children medical coverage. These are the people being so viciously insulted by the “honorable” Senator Hatch.
  • They are anyone who buys their own health coverage. The tax bill abolishes the ACA or Obamacare mandate that everyone buy health insurance. This means that an estimated 13 million younger, healthier people could potentially choose not to buy it, driving up costs for those who really need this insurance. Millions may see their already-exorbitant premiums rise, perhaps skyrocket. These are the people being left to die by the pious Pence and his Christian fascist minions.
  • They are the 3.5 million living in Puerto Rico—just hammered by Hurricane Maria and now economically hammered again by the tax bill’s provision treating U.S. businesses on the island as if they’re operating in a foreign country (with a 12.5 percent tax on income from intellectual property). A “devastating blow” the governor says. These are the people who have been so cruelly abandoned and then insulted, over and over again, by Trump.
  • They’re the undocumented immigrants who depend on child tax credits, but who are now required to provide a Social Security number, in other words the people cleaning office buildings till 4 am, the people following harvests to pick fruit in the heat of the summer, the people working without insurance and living six to a room, building homes in the sprawling subdivisions of the “Sunbelt.”
  • They’re the 57 million seniors—many who’ve slaved for this system their whole lives—and the disabled people who depend on Medicare, which could be slashed by $400 billion over the next decade.

All these people—the exploited ones from whose blood this wealth is sucked and those cast off by this system when they can no longer be profitably exploited—these are the “unworthy.”

And who are these corporations and “investors” Trump and the Republicans hail and speak for? Capitalist-imperialist exploiters1 whose wealth, power, and global empire have been built by enslaving Black people, committing genocide against Native Americans, super-exploiting sweatshop workers all over the world, and waging wars and murdering millions from Hiroshima, to Vietnam, to Iraq so they can dominate and control the planet.

The Big Lie of “Personal Responsibility”

Second, undergirding these politics of cruelty is an ideology of “personal responsibility.” Those vampires who have sucked their blood for centuries claim that the situation of the poor, the exploited, and the oppressed is fundamentally their own fault—and that the system, society, and government have no responsibility for redress. This is particularly stark for the Republican-fascists whose idea of “small government” includes getting rid of the “nanny state,” with its social welfare programs and safety nets, however inadequate and eroded it is, in the name of “choice,” “privatization,” and “personal responsibility.” That’s why Paul Ryan constantly refers to the safety net as “entitlement programs,” code for programs which people feel “entitled” to, but are not “deserving” of, if they can’t or don’t pay for it.

This notion of personal responsibility, implemented in these policies and politics of cruelty against the most vulnerable, is zealous among the Republicans, but shared and voiced by the Democrats, Clinton and Obama in different ways. Writing during the Clinton administration, Avakian said the following:

As utilized by Clinton as well as the “conservatives,” this theme of “personal responsibility” is an ideological weapon which serves the function of blaming the people for the failure of bourgeois society to live up to principles and promises it proclaims, and in particular blaming those in the inner cities for the impoverished and oppressed conditions into which they have been cast and confined. It seeks to locate the cause of this situation—and the actions of people forcibly maintained in these conditions—in some alleged “moral failing” on the part of the people themselves, and to deny and obscure the real cause: the workings of the system itself and the policies of the powers-that-be. (Did the people in the ghettos and barrios “de-industrialize” the cities and forcibly segregate housing, or for that matter did the people in the rural areas bring about the domination of corporate and banking capital over the farm economy?) “Personal responsibility” adds insult to injury—and, more than that, “personal responsibility” serves as the “moral sermonizing” to accompany the politics of punishment, the pious words pronounced by the executioners.

Targeting and Punishing Liberalism, Secularism, and “Blue States”: “Make Them Pay, Let Us Pray...”

This tax bill also includes provisions to help further the Republican—fascist—domination of the U.S. government. The bill is a political blow on economic terms.

It targets and punishes, with precision, states and constituencies where support for the Trump/Pence fascist regime is weakest—New York and the New England states, California, and so-called “Blue” (Democratic-leaning) areas more broadly. It is an assault on centers of liberalism, secularism, and scientific thought. As an article in the New York Times put it, the bill is “an economic dagger aimed at high-tax, high-cost and generally Democratic-leaning areas—most notably New York City and its neighbors.”

Homeowners broadly will be hammered by the tax bill’s reduction of mortgage interest deductions, but New York, California, and some other “blue” states will be hit even harder by that change and capping deductions for state and local income taxes. This will hammer many in the upper middle class in these states and limit their ability to raise taxes to pay for state-sponsored social programs in healthcare, social programs, and education. In California, K-12 schools could lose $4.6 billion a year, and infrastructure projects (roads, waterways, school building, etc.) could be severely impacted. The bill promotes traditional marriage and the patriarchal oppression of women by increasing the child tax credit and eliminating the deduction for alimony payments, which would discourage divorce. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans added a $10,000 tax credit to pay for religious, private, and home schooling, all key elements of the Christian fascist movement.

The bill includes an excise tax on the investment earnings of certain university endowments, impacting at least three dozen major universities and colleges. Again, this targets centers of liberalism, secularism, and critical thinking. The previous House version of the bill would have treated graduate assistantships as taxable income, making it unaffordable, surgically targeting a key demographic and realm largely hateful of the fascist direction of society. While this did not make it through this time, consider it a warning shot.

This is not the normal give and take of bourgeois electoral politics. It is intended to reshape society for years to come.

And where were the Democrats in all this? While opposing this bill, they did not generate massive mobilizations against it, similar to those against earlier Republican efforts to gut Obamacare. Proceeding from a 2018 electoral calculus, the Democratic leadership is mainly spinning the tax bill, and the devastation it will cause, as something that could benefit them—because it will back-fire and cost the Republicans votes next year! “This tax bill will be an anchor around the ankles of every Republican … they’re going to learn it next November,” Democratic Party leader Chuck Schumer declared during the process. Meanwhile the cruel, devastating and long-term attacks on the people become law and policy, and further, the temporary narcotic of the short-term tax cuts, in fact, could potentially influence sections of people toward the Republican-fascists, including electorally, furthering the fascist trajectory!

A Vicious Tax Bill from a Vicious System

This vicious new tax law didn’t fundamentally spring from the greed of a few individuals, the imaginations of lobbyists, or pressure from political donors. At heart, it arises from the basic nature and driving compulsions of capitalism-imperialism. This is not a curse word, not mere rhetoric. Capitalism-imperialism is an economic and political system which generates enormous wealth in the hands of a few, yet leaves billions destitute and increasingly desperate. To maintain and extend this system they wage wars of insane devastation and threaten human annihilation, they hold whole regions of the world in chains, they foster and enforce the murderous white supremacy born centuries ago to justify the slave trade and their genocides against indigenous peoples all over the planet, they perpetuate the eons-old abuse, degradation, and enslavement of the female half of humanity, and they ravenously shred the fabric of life on the planet. Now that system in the U.S. is presided over by a fascist regime.

This is a system which needs to be overthrown through revolution at the soonest possible moment. We have the strategy, the leadership for such a revolution, and a concrete and visionary blueprint for a radically different and far better society, aiming towards emancipating all of humanity. You can find out about it HERE, and HERE.

Right now, the Trump/Pence fascist regime is a more monstrous and grotesque form of rule of this system, inflicting horrors and threatening the future of humanity. To stop this, and for the possibility to fight for any kind of different and better future, it is urgent to unite millions to drive this regime from power, through massive, nonviolent political protest. The regime has gotten through many challenges, doubling down each time towards consolidating fascism. That dynamic will continue unless it is removed from power.

Trump has signed a tax bill that will be a crushing assault on tens of millions of people. It will make life intolerable—and no one should tolerate it. This again underscores the urgency of driving this regime from power through the kind of mass, nonviolent political protest and resistance called for by


1. As to the rationale of them being “job creators,” please see the accompanying excerpt from Bob Avakian on the underlying logic of this claim. [back]




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