Taxes are a pet peeve of mine. Whether in Coweta County, the state of Georgia or the US, government must spend our tax money wisely, providing the maximum benefit at the lowest cost.
When I was a County Commission Chair (Republican) in a rural middle Georgia County, I reduced yearly tax increases from 10% to 1%. It’s why the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia made me Chair of their statewide Tax Committee. I’m still a fiscal conservative (though a progressive on social issues).
Recently, Coweta County and the south metro area has been inundated with fliers about the upcoming election. One lurid GOP ad reads “GEORGIA FAMILIES NEED A TAX BREAK”, depicting Senator Raphael Warnock being virtually smothered by wads of cash. Similar TV ads slam gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams for stating that tax increases are sometimes needed. How accurate are these assertions?
First, let’s look at the GOP national record on taxes (https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-irs-files-reveal-how-much-the-ultrawealthy-gained-by-shaping-trumps-big-beautiful-tax-cut ). Trump did give a tax cut to Americans in 2017. But it was his wealthy supporters who benefitted, not the common person. The wealthiest 1% of Americans got $24.8 billion in tax breaks. The next 9% of the wealthiest got another $12.3 billion. That totals $37.1 billion for those in the top 10%.
But the rest of us got only $6 billion in tax cuts. In other words, 86% of the total tax cuts went to the wealthy. And 58% to the super wealthy!
Further, as opposed to what Trump stated at the time, the tax cut did not pay for itself. The Trump record of debt creation is shameful, proving that he was anything but a fiscal conservative (https://www.thebalancemoney.com/us-deficit-by-year-3306306). The numbers speak for themselves.
Obama’s last year in office was 2016, as shown. The following chart for the Trump years in office (2017-2020) shows-a. the year, b. the annual deficit in billions, c. the increase in the national debt in billions and d. the annual deficit to GDP ratio.
Under Trump, every year there was a substantial increase in both our national deficit and our debt. And our debt was increasing much more rapidly than our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), our economy. The 2020 increase was partially caused by Trump’s mismanagement of the Covid epidemic. However, in early 2020 and before, the deficit had been widely predicted to be well over a billion dollars even before the outbreak, due to Trump’s tax give away to the wealthy (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/01/28/us-deficit-eclipse-1-trillion-2020-cbo-says-fiscal-imbalance-continues-widen/ ).
Let’s take a look at what Senator Warnock and the Democrats propose regarding taxes. First, Joe Biden has never proposed a general tax increase on all Americans. Contrary to the flyer, neither has Senator Warnock. Biden proposed that wealthy couples making over $400,000 annually pay more taxes. Most Americans agree with him- and I imagine that goes for Coweta County residents.
Biden also wants to increase taxes on corporate profits of American companies from 21% to 28%. And have 15% minimum corporate income tax for multi-national corporations. These are plans that most Democratic Senators, including Warnock, back.
Again, most people in Coweta would probably agree that the Amazons of the world should pay more rather than the little guy. The bottom line is that the tax assertions about Warnock made by the “One Nation America” PAC are untrue.
As for Stacey Abrams, she does want to increase the amount of taxes raised from gambling. Right now, we only have lottery gambling. The lottery raises money which goes towards lowering tuition costs for our college students. She wants to add sports and casino gambling in Georgia, with the money raised also going toward rapidly rising college tuition and economic development (https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-inflation-economy-personal-taxes-stacey-abrams-e3e3328b72020071030419de6e16becd ).
Rather than giving tax rebates like Kemp wants to help him in an election year, she wants to use excess funds for “investing in our economy, saving healthcare, building infrastructure”. The healthcare she is referring to is expansion of Medicaid, paid for 90% by the Federal government, and covering over 500,000 additional residents. Due to our stubborn politically based refusal to cough up our 10%, we are one of only 12 states losing these reimbursements. Only 20% of Georgians are opposed to Medicaid expansion (https://gbpi.org/new-poll-georgia-american-rescue-plan-economic-recovery/ ).
These are the taxation facts. You make up your mind and vote in November.
Jack Bernard was the first Director of Health Planning for the State of Georgia and then served as an executive with several healthcare firms. Jack is a local activist, previously serving on the Jasper County Board of Commissioners and Board of Health. He's now Chair of the Fayette County Board of Health.