Our American electorate seems much too preoccupied with social media, electronics, and popular culture: to the point where they hardly have time to either remember or even read up on the past -- and I am talking about a past that was only eight years ago. Even millennials should be able to recall what it was like in 2008 for them and their parents: the outlook was foreseeably bleak to say the least. The American middle class paid a burdensome price during one of the worst economic times in America since I have been here. As a small business owner, I struggled to keep my head barely above water to ride out a foreboding storm. But I saw how some of my customers lost their long-term secure jobs, savings, retirement accounts, and got uprooted, literally, from their homes by the banksters who put their homes up on the auction block.
When I first arrived in America, I hadn't the slightest clue about economics or what was a "trickle-down economy." The term began to make its appearance during Ronald Reagan's presidency. At the time, it wasn't yet clear what was transpiring economically: the transformation was occurring surreptitiously. I did hear a lot about how "greed is good," and why it's was the essential ingredient for capitalism to work. The first order of business for the new president was to cut corporate tax drastically, while individual tax too was cut: gone was the stratified income tax which was the norm after the post-war economic boom of the fifties, sixties, and early seventies. After realizing his faulty math, Reagan did have to raise taxes subsequently, and most of this budget gap was filled not by the very rich, but by the middle class and retirees.
Even in the post-Jimmy Carter economy (who incidentally created more jobs than George Bush, Jr.), I found the American middle class to still be robust and flourishing with a worry-free lifestyle. During the early eighties in California, I encountered many au pairs (quasi-nannies) summoned from Europe to cater to well-off middle-class households: they had quite agreeable remunerations, which included stipends, room and board, plane fare paid in full, use of a car, and weekends free in exchange for few hours of housework and childcare. But this luxurious outlook for the middle class began to wither away by the second term of Reagan, and the denouement of this class-divisive economic policy manifested itself in the Los Angeles riots during the last days of George Bush Sr.'s term, following the dire inequity resulting from more and more wealth being siphoned off to a small sliver of the newly created well off class.
When Lloyd Bentsen famously suggested in his vice presidential debate that he too could create the illusion of prosperity if he was could write $200 billion hot check every year, he wasn't joking. By the time Reagan was done, he had nearly quadrupled our national debt and left the middle-class economically feeble. George Bush, Sr. further added 54% more to the debt left behind by Reagan. Although Bill Clinton added 32% to the debt, he also raised the highest tax rate to 39.6%, and left nearly a half trillion dollar budget surplus in the treasury and stratospheric job numbers that is yet to be surpassed. But that surplus was squandered away quickly by George Bush, Jr. in the form of the largest tax cuts since Reagan: a repeat of that ignominious economic policy I like to call the "tinkle-down economy." Once the wealthy class has their fortunes, they hold on to their wealth or find ways to stash it away in some offshore account or pass laws to let them keep their wealth by any means possible. The current tax code is 70,000-plus pages!! Even as a business owner, with my itemized return I only get to use a few of those pages. Most Americans only use one!
Bush's tax cut scam was based on the lie that Americans are paying too much in taxes and that is why there is a budget surplus (he dangled the $600 tax cut carrot to American families but slyly omitted to mention how much bigger a tax cut his rich cronies were about to get under his famous talking point "this is your money, you should get it back"). This tax cut was promulgated on a fictitiously rosy economic projection that "tried" to predict our economic future over ten years? Well, we all know how that turned out. With his unaccounted for war costs under the supplemental canard, four hundred thousand job losses per month, and epic economic failure of the second worst kind, Bush Jr. increased the debt by nearly 101%.
By the time his successor came to office, Henry Paulsen had already absconded with a $700 billion dollar check by providing a ransom note on behalf of the banksters; he was in on the scheme for his own company (Goldman Sachs) that he represented before he became secretary of the Treasury. Not all the national debt incurred under Obama is attributable to his policies: some of the increase in debt was already projected due the rapidly deteriorating economy, two active wars, republican's Medicare Part D bill, and loss of revenue for the U.S. treasury. President Obama did increase the debt by 68 percent - some which was already spent under his predecessor's watch who pretended that war costs weren't part of our general budget - but he had to spend the funds under extreme economic duress and it was imperative according to most economists at the time. His spending averted an economic catastrophe, more than doubled the stock market, lowered energy costs, controlled inflations rate, and created 14 million new jobs.
And since we have not taken heed of this history, we may be doomed to repeat it: Donald Trump is dangling that same tax cut carrot ala George Bush Jr. by promising to cut everyone's taxes, including corporate tax rate while promising to create jobs, and reduce our national debt - this is simply an economic fantasy, a fool's paradise. Trump also wants to do away with the estate tax. This is of personal interest to him: he wants to pass off his estate to his heirs untaxed to the tune of 7.1 billion dollars, i.e. all the capital gains made on this properties will get passed on to his descendants untaxed (another capital gain tax dodge)! The current threshold is $5.45 million dollars, after which you have to pay taxes on the estate or a $10.9 million dollars exemption in the case of a married couple.
This current threshold applies only to an elite group of 0.2 percent of the estates in our U.S. population. This was dubbed the 'death tax' by Republicans to garner sympathy from voters who couldn't care less about a wealthy estate but had a gut aversion to the concept of death and taxes. The previous threshold was $650,000 in 2001. Although not a huge source of revenue, it is still a good amount for the U.S. Treasury, and serves another even more important purpose: it avoids creating a perpetual class of wealthy families who are able to pass their fortunes to their heirs untaxed, returning to the system of aristocracy and peasantry that our founding fathers rejected. In the year 2010 many families inherited large fortunes untaxed due to failures of our legislature, and the U.S. treasury got short changed.
So Trump's anti-tax fantasy should sound familiar because it is: it has been tried and failed. Yes, Ronal Reagan created jobs but by nearly quadrupling the national debt and by irrevocably weakening a stout middle class (previously the hallmark of the U.S. economy system) that I encountered when I first arrived in this country. When top 0.1 percent of our nation own the same amount of wealth as bottom 90 percent, then the surreptitious economic transformation of this country is no longer a secret: it is manifested in all walks of our society in terms of children living under poverty or going to be hungry, families who can barely manage to keep their dignity, mass homelessness, an information age economy without the necessary scaffolding of a trained or even educated workforce, and American jobs catapulted overseas.
When the wealthy amass their wealth, they don't part with it out of an altruistic motivation or some sort of allegiance to less fortunate members of society. The already proven reality is that they are loathe to assume that anyone other than themselves deserves to own that fortune, and true to a tinkle down economy, they would rather piss on the rest of us for not being clever or smart enough to "work" for our fortunes through write-offs.