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Former U.S. Rep. H.R. Gross, R-Iowa, was a devout watchdog while he represented us in Washington, D.C., from 1949 to 1975. It appeared his role in Congress was to object to spending projects considered wasteful, prompting Time magazine to label him “the useful pest.”

Gross proudly served Iowa’s fiscally conservative voters and was succeeded by then-Rep. Charles Grassley. I repeatedly voted for Grassley, also a Republican, as he portrayed himself to be the perfect Gross-clone and upheld “the useful pest” badge of honor.

Move forward to 2019. It appears Grassley is no longer the fiscal conservative he once embodied in the U.S. House (1975-1981) and his early years as a senator (1980s and 1990s). I make this claim by partially reflecting on Grassley’s op-ed “Tax reform continues to deliver for Iowans” (The Des Moines Register, April 12, 2019). Grassley stated President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017, is having a “positive impact” and “improving the American economy.” Wrong.

Only 36 percent of Americans approved of the tax-cut legislation, and law itself has been unpopular from the get-go. The GOP’s tax giveaway to big corporations and the wealthy anchors the negative sentiment. Public opinion is just that, an opinion — facts matter. According to the IRS, tax refunds are down $6 billion from 2018, and 1.6 million fewer people received refunds. America’s Government Accountability Office warned Congress of this likely outcome, but it fell upon deaf ears.

As a result of Trump’s tax-cut law, which both Grassley and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst voted in favor of, federal revenue is significantly down and the deficit for the first half of the 2019 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2018-March 31, 2019) was $691 billion. By the end of the 2019 fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2019), the Treasury Department projects the tax reform act will have cost Americans $1.1 trillion.

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By simple division, $1.1 trillion divided by 328,812,941 (USA’s population as of May 1) equals $3,345.37. Hence, every newborn baby to every centenarian just went into heavy debt in a very short period of time, and with interest rates and an irresponsible Congress the federal debt will only get worse. And Grassley claims the tax reform act was positive? Fiscally responsible citizens would definitely argue otherwise.

So, how did the new tax law create $1.1 trillion of debt? More than 60 of America’s biggest corporations paid $0.00 in taxes this year — twice the number than before Trump’s tax reform. Overall, corporations paid just 7 percent of their profits as federal taxes — the lowest effective rate since 1947. The zero-tax paying corporations include Amazon, IBM, Gannett, Netflix, Delta Airlines, Chevron, General Motors, Honeywell, Principal Financial Group and Deere & Co. Amazon, for example, received a $10.8 billion rebate.

Additionally, big tax benefits went to the top 1 percent of Americans, who received an average tax break of $62,000; middle 20 percent of income earners got an average tax cut of $1,090. Besides what I’m now renaming as Trump’s “Corporation and the Wealthy Tax Salvation Act,” don’t forget economists have also determined Trump’s trade war resulted in Americans paying $12.3 billion to the U.S. government in taxes (remember a tariff becomes a tax we pay for purchased goods) and Uncle Sam lost $6.9 billion in revenue due to Trump’s trade-war-related market disruptions.

Obviously we’ve elected foxes to be our voice in D.C. and watch the debt-ridden hen house. Iowans deserve six H.R. Gross-like “useful pests” (two senators and four representatives) who can truly represent citizens who value being fiscally conservative and want a balanced budget. Meanwhile, please send your $3,345.37 to: IRS, 1111 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20224.

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Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.

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