There comes a time in every child’s life when they must cast aside the fantastic stories and fairytales of their youth for the more grounded reality in which they’re required to live if they wish to be a functioning member of society. At some point, we are forced to acknowledge that there is no magical world hidden in the back of the wardrobe. Lions don’t talk. Witches don’t turn people to stone.
Sadly, some struggle to cast aside these stories. Lost in fantasy, these poor souls never truly join the rest of us in the real world. Unfortunately for those of us in IL-13, Congressman Davis is one such individual.
In case you missed it, Republicans recently unveiled their long-awaited tax reform package to much fanfare and almost universal disapproval. However, to hear Rep. Davis describe the bill, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Everyone will get a massive tax cut, the middle class will come roaring back, we’ll create eleventy-billion new jobs, and we’ll put Hawaiian Punch in every drinking fountain nationwide.
In all seriousness, Rep. Davis is all in on this tax bill, and in all seriousness, most of the things he’s saying about it are either untrue or horribly misleading. This isn’t a particularly new phenomenon for someone as unfamiliar with the truth as Rep. Davis, but this bill is in a world all its own—as are Rep. Davis’s attempts to rationalize his support for it. In this world, trickle-down economics actually works instead of being a failed economic theory, corporations aren’t making enough money despite reporting record profits and sitting on piles of cash, the deficit is no longer of Republican concern even though this plan increases it by at least $1.5 trillion, and the only thing you need to know about this bill is that it lowers taxes on middle- and lower-income families.
Let’s start there, as this is the most frequent (and really, only) claim Rep. Davis has used to defend this plan. As you might imagine, reality doesn’t support Rep. Davis’s position. With this claim, Congressman Davis comes as close to lying as humanly possible without outright lying. Reason being, over the next decade the tax cuts Davis and his conservative colleagues are using to sell this plan decrease to near zero for anyone who isn’t wealthy. Not only that, these increasingly diminishing returns aren’t even universal for the very families Davis cites in his sales pitch. In fact, numerous analyses show that many middle-income families would either see no change in their after-tax income or actually see their taxes increase. If we extend the timeline out past the ten-year window required by Senate rules, things get even worse. A new NYT analysis showed that HALF of middle-class families would see their taxes increase under this plan.
Concerningly, this is pretty much it for Davis’s sales pitch. This massively misleading claim of universal middle- and lower-income tax cuts is the beginning and end of his rationale for supporting this bill. Which is to say, the central pillar of Davis’s rationale for supporting this bill relies on the suspension of the passage of time and ignorance of the bill itself in order to even remotely approach accuracy. That’s saying something.
On the topic of saying something, there’s a lot Congressman Davis isn’t saying about this plan. As you might imagine, there’s much more than a temporary, uneven, and potentially nonexistent tax cut for lower- and middle-income families in this proposal. Some omitted highlights include:
- Adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years (some estimates put it closer to $3 or $4 trillion). As a result, this plan would violate Senate rules were it to pass the House.
- Takes money from blue states like Illinois and gives it to dependent red states by significantly reducing SALT deductions.
- Screws over TAs and RAs at public colleges and universities like UIUC, resulting in the 5,000 or so TAs and RAs currently on campus losing fully one-fifth of their income by eliminating tuition tax waivers. The impact this provision alone would have on this community is impossible to overstate.
- Raises taxes on students already struggling to repay their student loans by eliminating or consolidating tax deductions that are meant to offset the costs of higher education.
- Targets the children of undocumented parents, undercutting Davis’s supposed support for legislation to protect DACA recipients.
- Raises taxes on people that are older, disabled, or sick by eliminating the medical expense deduction.
Provides the top 1% and corporations with a massive an unnecessary handout paid for by middle and lower-income families. In fact, fully 80% of the proposed tax cuts will go to the obscenely wealthy and corporations.
The kindest way I can describe Rep. Davis’s understanding of and advocacy for this bill is "reality-adjacent." It's genuinely troubling that the man we rely on to represent us in Congress seems incapable of accurately portraying or understanding the landmark tax reform legislation he's championing.
In the fictional children’s novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a magical world is found in the back of a wardrobe. In the Rodney Davis version of this story, a magical world is found when the Paul Ryan poster hanging over Rep. Davis’s race car bed comes to him in a dream and whispers, “Trickle-down will totally work this time.”
A wise man once said, "Reality has a way of asserting itself." As a college town in a blue state, we would be uniquely and disproportionately affected were this bill to pass. For the good of this community, let's hope it asserts itself before Rep. Davis votes to include all of us in his delusional tax fantasies.
If you'd like to encourage Rep. Davis to join us here in the real world, give his offices a call at 217.403.4690.