The approval of tax cuts reminds us that we do not live in a democracy

Clara Barros/ Contributing Writer

The fiscal battle is over: President Donald Trump signed the Republican tax reform bill. Not exactly the Christmas/New Year present many of us were expecting. The legislative move is expected to cut about $1.5 trillion in taxes, which would mainly benefit wealthy individuals and corporations. Those will see a tax rate reduction from 35 percent to 21 percent, according to NBC News.

There seems to be plenty of disagreement regarding the technicalities and the implications of the law’s 500 pages, but one thing is certain: most Americans didn’t approve of it. This has been backed up by several polls.

In December, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reported that only 24 percent of Americans thought the reform was a good idea. Quinnipiac University’s survey found a similar number. Even the surveys that reported the highest numbers of approval still revealed overwhelming rejection — 52 percent of Americans thought the reform was a bad idea, according to CNN.

Infographic created by Clara Barros

The people’s rationale is clear: the tax plan will benefit, first and foremost, those who already have colossal amounts of accumulated capital — and won’t do much for the working and the middle classes.

So, if democracy is, by definition, government by the people — and a lot of people think we live in one – how did this bill even get approved?

The answer is actually quite simple. Political power lies much less in the hands of the people than it lies in the hands of corporations. Corporate lobby, interest groups, mutual favors and coercion are the screaming reality of electoral politics.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. For every dollar — all unions and public interest groups combined spend on lobbying — corporations spend $34, according to political scientist, Lee Drutman.

Last year, they spent an unimaginable amount of $5.9 million per member of Congress. Researchers at Princeton and Northwestern University have also helped us understand just how much power ordinary citizens have in the electoral game. After analyzing extensive data on public policy in a 20-year timespan, they demonstrated that when corporations want a law to be passed, there is a 60 percent chance it will — and if they don’t want it to be passed, it simply doesn’t.

On the other hand, public support is shown to be almost irrelevant. Regardless of whether most people support or reject a policy, the odds of it being passed remain at 30 percent.

To put it simple, while we do have some democratic rights like freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the right to vote, we can barely say we have the core piece of a democratic society: popular decisional power.

The GOP tax plan was approved because it was in line with the interests of Wall Street. We know who is going to benefit and who will, once again, be left aside.

So, before we engage in desperate attempts to make political progress, we have to stop repeating to ourselves the misleading narrative that we live in a true democracy. It won’t help us. If we’re going to believe fairy tales, I’d rather stick with New Year’s superstitions — at least we might get some good luck out of it.  



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


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