Apr 272017
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

The new tax reform plan introduced yesterday by Trump officials was painted with a very broad brush and appears to predominately benefit the wealthy. Though touted to create economic growth, it may in fact create serious implications for working class citizens who could lose their state and local tax deductions. It is especially short on details and how the plan will be paid for.

President Trump has been called “the least charitable billionaire in the world” and has put together the wealthiest cabinet in American history populated by former Wall Street executives and other billionaires.

While eight million U.S. households enjoy assets that exceed $1 million, the vast majority of America’s citizens consider themselves struggling to make ends meet. That is especially true in New Orleans where a poor educational system held back generations and exceedingly high unemployment still exists for African-American males. Trump’s plan will do little to help New Orleans.

In other parts of the U.S., many of those disenfranchised rural residents and blue collar workers who elected Trump still suffer economic hardships in small towns whose factories have closed and residents have moved away to greener pastures. Though President Trump will enjoy some success in slowing the economic exodus, he will be hard-pressed to turn that trend around in four or even eight years.

While Trump talks about defending American workers against companies that hire illegal immigrants, he does not practice what he preaches. Cities like New Orleans have been built by a diverse population and still rely on that diversity to fill our tourism economy’s jobs. Obamacare is important to many of New Orleans citizens.

During the campaign, President Trump was branded as a self-styled new populist who successfully mobilized a large, alienated element of the U.S. population who believed that our government was controlled by out-of-touch bureaucrats that acted to benefit their own interests.

In fact populism is reshaping politics around the world and has actually been growing since the 1960’s. The recent vote by British citizens to leave the European Union and Marine Le Pen’s support in France are two signs of populism’s growth, according to the New York Times.

As time passes, Trump’s brand could change from populist to plutocrat. In a plutocracy, the country or society is governed by an elite ruling class whose power derives from their wealth. Pluto was the Greek God of the underworld where all the earth’s mineral wealth was stored. The movement toward a plutocracy seems to be gaining speed every day.

A preliminary look at the proposed tax plan shows many benefits for big business and the wealthy and an equally clear lack of compassion for the working class and the unemployed. Continuing income inequality appears to be a hallmark of the new plan and will only perpetuate the traditional strife between businesses and their workers.

Whenever government is dominated by corporate interests, exceptional inequality in income, wealth and opportunity undermines society. The World Economic Forum recently issued a study that the wealth gap is especially pronounced in America.

As a small business owner, a corporate tax cut would be appreciated. But every tax plan should create balance. Let’s hope that a president who refuses to release his federal income taxes won’t create insurmountable tax problems for working class families and the poor.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and work for City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. Her current clients include judicial candidates Suzanne Montero and Paula Brown.

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