BACKERS OF PRESIDENT TRUMP are justifiably worried that, on the economy, the public isn’t giving credit where it’s due. For a while, that was understandable, since this president didn’t really have a significant economic accomplishment.
Republicans were thus left to argue that the stock market was soaring because Trump was paring back regulations and had somehow brought about a more optimistic national mood. That, however, was a pretty thin reed upon which to stake an economic claim.
But let’s be honest: Things have now changed dramatically. As even his critics must acknowledge, Trump and the Republican Congress now have a sizable trophy on the mantle: the tax cut he signed just before Christmas. It was a present to the nation, the president proclaimed. And one that gives him something real to brag about as he begins his second year in office.
Look what’s happened: With taxes reduced, take-home pay has increased. Further, some firms are even sharing their largesse, giving employees one-time bonuses in a high-profile effort to show that the bounty for businesses is trickling down.
No matter where you stand on this president, intellectual honesty requires that we raise a grateful glass to the people who brought us this tax cut. So here’s to today’s high-schoolers. And grammar-schoolers. And preschoolers, even. Thanks, you generous young adults, you fine, self-sacrificing teenagers, you big-hearted adolescents, you splendid little half-pints of light. You are the best, one and all. May you live long, learn much, work hard — and never, ever retire.
Now, some Trumpkins may be wondering: Hmm, why credit the kids rather than our Dear Leader? Simple, really. This tax cut isn’t paid for. Despite talk of doing so, Congress didn’t close loopholes to compensate for the $1.5 trillion, 10-year cost of the package. As virtually all the analyses have said, the tax cut won’t pay for itself. Tax cuts don’t. And we haven’t seen and won’t see offsetting cuts in spending. That means we’ll fund it through debt that will be borne by future generations.
So thank the youngsters for your extra take-home pay. And if your company, citing this tax cut, gives you a bonus you wouldn’t otherwise have gotten, thank the kids for that, too. After all, they will be paying for the tax cut that made all that possible.
Now, admittedly, that’s not the way things used to work. The Greatest Generation fought and won World War II, then busted their tails and saved to build better lives for their kids. Today’s politically dominant generations are taking the opposite course: reaching into the pockets of their kids and grandchildren to fund better lives for themselves.
Will this new debt be an albatross for those young people? Well, a Gloomy Gus might say so — after all, it’s a basic truism that a tax cut that’s not offset is merely a tax hike pushed into the future — but we all know that hard work and delayed gratification build character, so in a way, we’ve done them a nice favor.
Still, everyone likes to be acknowledged, so do let them know you’re grateful for the gift they’ve given us. Actually, “given” isn’t quite the right word, as it implies volition. So how about this: The future earnings we’ve transferred to current use.
And as for you young folks, you should be so proud of your patriotism! Remember JFK’s exhortation to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”?
Well, you’re really doing it!
And if, in quiet moments, you find yourself wondering: OK, but why are we doing it all?
Well, JFK said something else that’s even more apt: “Life is unfair.”
But not to high-earners and baby boomers and other well-established adults, thank goodness. And in today’s America, that’s all that really matters.Scot Lehigh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.