Taxpayers and voters of the Tri-Community and Copper Corridor, the part of Arizona where I live, will soon come face to face with what the Tax Cut and Jobs Act means for our communities. Based on demographics of the region, it’s clear that most local taxpayers won’t be major beneficiaries. In fact, Eastern Pinal taxpayers will be big losers if adding a trillion + dollars to the federal deficit triggers cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Food Stamps.
Rich people and big corporations aren’t located here so their gains won’t be felt here. At best a handful of small businesses may benefit at the margins from changes in tax rules regarding treatment of pass through profits. Another handful who currently deduct contributions to churches and charities may gain from a doubling of the standard deduction. But religious institutions and non profits themselves may be losers as local donors lose tax incentives to make contributions.
On the job growth front, Eastern Pinal County needs investments in infrastructure, education and training to both grow and access good paying jobs. Tax cuts targeting big corporations and the super wealthy will produce none of the above. Even a best case scenario put forward by corporate tax cut devotees fails to envision a surge in good paying jobs to replace those lost to mine, mill and smelter closures in places like San Manuel, Mammoth, Oracle, Hayden, Kearny and Superior.
Many Tri-Community residents will recall that what closed the San Manuel mine, mill, smelter and refinery, when still profitable wasn’t the price of copper, labor contracts, environmental regulations, the corporate tax rate or some combination thereof. It was demands made by a multi national corporation - BHP Billington headquartered in Australia - for an unattainably high return on capital investment and a tax write off that Congress is leaving untouched in current negotiations. Of course, the well being of workers and their families never figured in these corporate calculations any more than the well being of ordinary tax payers figured prominently in congressional deliberations.
The rock solid heart of the new federal tax cut legislation is not “middle class tax cuts”, which are uncertain and, at best, piddling, but huge cuts designed to make Corporate America more profitable than it currently is. Ironically because 35% of US corporations are owned by foreign investors the payoff to them from this legislation is gigantic. The claim that going deeper into debt to aid big business serves the common good is ridiculous on its face.
Congress, as of this writing, is wrapping up the Tax Cut and Jobs Act before sending it to the President for his signature. Unsurprisingly their most recent move is to make additional cuts to taxes on the wealthy.
What we now know is that when the tax bill’s impacts are finally tallied through real life experience, there will be a few big winners and and lots of losers including our children and children’s children who will assume responsibility for the nation’s staggering debt load. If the citizens of the nation can’t stop this massively unpopular legislation now, opportunities for redress at the next election in November, 2018 loom on the horizon.
Frank C. Pierson, Jr.
Frank Pierson retired after forty years of work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) as a professional organizer. He began his career in 1971 in Chicago, moved to Queens, New York City and migrated west to work in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. He resides with his wife, Mary Ellen Kazda, in Oracle, Arizona. He may be reached at email@example.com