Then there’s the largely unrecognized retirement crisis. One-third of American workers are saving nothing for retirement, and more and more workers in their late 60s and early 70s say they simply don’t have the money to retire.
The US also faces a college affordability and student debt crisis. A year at a public university typically costs more than $20,000 – a hefty price tag for many families when median household income is $59,000. Total student loan debt has soared above $1.3tn, and more than two-thirds of college graduates borrow to go to school. Their average debt upon graduation is about $35,000, triple the level of two decades ago.
And the poverty crisis has not gone away. Nearly 41 million Americans live below the poverty line, with nearly one in five children living in poverty.
Unfortunately, Mr Trump and Congress have largely ignored these crises since inauguration day. Instead, turning their backs on good governance, the president and congressional Republicans are focused like a laser beam on heaping riches on two constituencies that are definitely not in crisis: corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
Corporation profits are near their highest levels in history, while revenues from the corporate income tax have dropped to just 2% of GDP, down from 6% in the 1950s. And the richest 1% of Americans now receive 20% of overall national income, double the level in 1980 and the highest level in nearly a century – since the Roaring Twenties. Real after-tax income for households in the top 1% has nearly tripled since 1980, rising more than four times faster than for middle-class households.
Even though corporate America and the rich are doing more than fine, the Trump administration and Congress are rushing to push through tax cuts that mainly help business and the wealthiest Americans. A recent Washington Post headline said it all: “Senate tax bill would cut taxes of wealthy and increase taxes on families earning less than $75,000 by 2027.”
The Republican tax plan goes out of its way to reward those who least need additional financial rewards, and there is evidently only one reason Republican lawmakers are doing this – to please ultra-wealthy campaign donors and corporate donors who hate taxes and are demanding that Trump and the Republicans rack up some, indeed any, legislative “win”.
Sadly, there have not been congressional hearings to examine and shine some light on what would be the biggest tax overhaul in three decades.
A very unfortunate, but little-discussed aspect of the legislation is that by increasing the national debt by a projected $1.5tn, and perhaps $2tn, the plan would make it far harder for the nation to address the pressing domestic crises I mentioned above – and that doesn’t even include the damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.