Tuesday, February 13, 2018
New York Times op-ed: The Art of the Scam, by Mark Schmitt (New America):
Most American workers this month will see their take-home pay go up, some a little and a few quite a bit, as the new tax act takes effect and less money is withheld for federal income taxes.
But for many, the gift will be short-lived. Because the law was rushed and written in a partisan frenzy, withholding may not be accurate and you might owe money to the I.R.S. next year. You might even be advised to file new forms so that more money is withheld — and then the forms and withholding amounts are likely to change again later in the year and then again every year thereafter as the cuts for individuals head toward expiration.
This messy uncertainty, not abstractions like an increase in the federal deficit, will be the lived experience of Trump economic policy for most American households. It might seem like just a bureaucratic complication, but this episode could point progressives toward a persuasive economic message, one that reflects the economic realities of the middle class and the striving of people in struggling small communities as well as those in tech-driven metropolises.
It’s the experience of the scam economy, where nothing is certain and anything gained might disappear without warning. It’s an economy where risk is shifted onto individuals and families, financial predators lurk behind every robocall and pop-up ad, work schedules are changed without notice and Americans have endless choices about savings, education, health care and other needs but very little clear guidance about how to make those choices wisely or safely. ...
Giving people some security from the scam economy is never going to involve one big program or idea, like universal basic income or single-payer health care. It will always involve dozens of policies, even to replace the dozens that are currently being dismantled.
But together they add up to a big theme, ensuring that people who pursue education, work hard and try to save for the future have some assurance that they will be able to navigate a complex and quickly changing economic climate. Progressives should give it a name, because it connects with the experience of every American outside of the very wealthy.