CWA’s Shelton urges action to stop GOP tax hike on workers
A protest against tax cuts for millionaires. | AP

WASHINGTON—Communications Workers President Chris Shelton is warning workers and their allies to act now against a planned Republican tax hike on the middle class.

“You may hear from Trump that it’s ‘tax reform.’ I want to caution you: That’s the usual bullshit,” the blunt former telephone lineman told union activists in an October 26 nighttime conference call.

“What is being proposed is a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires,” Shelton said. “Donald Trump and the GOP leadership want to get this massive giveaway to their Wall Street friends through by the end of the year.

“This is another phase in the ongoing fight for decades to shift more and more of the wealth to the elites and away from the rest of us.”

Labor must mobilize through protests, call-ins swamping lawmakers’ switchboards, constant visits to congressional offices and educating the public on the real impact of the tax cut, Shelton said. His union is already preparing materials to educate voters about how it would hurt them.

President Donald Trump and Congress’ GOP leaders will roll out a tax bill on November 1 that would cost $1.5 trillion over a decade and start committee work on it that day. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., aims to pass it through by Thanksgiving and Trump wants it on his desk by the end of the year.

The tax bill would cut top tax rates for the rich, raise tax rates – from 10 percent to 12 percent – on the first dollars everyone earns, and reduce individuals’ untaxed contributions to 401(k) accounts from $18,000 yearly to $2,400 yearly.

It also would kill the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes, which would slam taxpayers in higher-tax high-service blue states, including California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. And it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

Trump claims the GOP tax plan would save an average middle-class family $4,000 yearly. That’s because it would double the personal deduction.  But the non-partisan Tax Foundation reports 80 percent of the benefits would go to the super-rich.

And Economic Policy Institute analyst Josh Bivens calls Trump’s claim that a tax cut to the rich and corporations would trickle down to help workers by boosting productivity, then wages, “clearly wrong.

“Economic logic and evidence argues strongly that American workers should not expect any noticeable wage boost from cutting corporate income taxes,” he adds.

To grease the skids for the tax plan, Ryan shoved a House-Senate budget blueprint agreement through by a 216-212 vote the night of October 26, with 20 Republicans defecting because the pact would let the tax bill hit their constituents hard.

The budget agreement would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shove the tax cut through there by “reconciliation” with no Democratic filibuster allowed and with only 50 GOP votes, plus Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker.

Twelve House GOP “no’s” came from lawmakers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, whose constituents would get socked by elimination of the state and local tax deduction. Every Republican from California and Illinois, whose constituents would also get hurt, voted for the budget blueprint. All voting Democrats opposed it.

Trump’s claim the tax cut would help the middle class “is the biggest lie I’ve seen in my five years in Congress,” added Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a Painter, who joined Shelton on the conference call. If Trump’s tax cut is approved, millionaires “are likely to be paying less” as a share of their income “than the average family,” he said.

And Shelton warned that Ryan and the Republicans would cut Social Security and Medicare to make up for the $1.5 trillion hole they blow in U.S. finances through their tax cut.

“Once we make this clear and cut through their nonsense, we will win on this,” Shelton vowed.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.