Lewis: The biggest tax hike in history that no one knows anything about


I hate taxes. Yes, I know they are needed for certain things, but that doesn’t mean I like paying for them. I come from a time when the word “conservative” meant you were in favor of small government and frugal government spending. The word conservative seems to have taken on a whole new definition these days – one that has more to do with social opinions than fiscal policy.

Question. Which president is responsible for the largest tax increase in our country? Joe Biden? Bill Clinton? Barack Obama? Obama ranks second with Affordable Care Act that cost taxpayers $76.8 billion in his first year. (Note: if you look at this in constant dollars, this ranking drops but, in any case, it was the second since 1993). The ACA was big but whether you liked “Obamacare” or not, at least most Americans got something in return.

So are you ready? The prize for the biggest tax increase goes to Donald Trump. What is more amazing is that he accomplished it without any Congressional approval. Is your head spinning right now? Mine was when I discovered both that it was possible and the magnitude of the numbers involved.

In 2019, the Trump administration taxed nearly $80 billion new US personal taxes – the largest tax increase in history! All from one person without the need for congressional approval. What happened here? How did it happen? The trick was that it technically didn’t impose a “tax”. Instead, he imposed “tariffs,” most of which were aimed at China.

The purpose of tariffs is to force reduction in consumption of a particular thing, usually from a particular country or region, either to punish the country and/or to make your home market more competitive. Sounds admirable, but most experts agree – tariffs don’t work.

Trump’s logic was that if we increased the import tax on steel, for example (which he did up to 25%!), then all of America’s steel mills would grow and there would be more jobs, yadda yadda yadda. Almost every pundit knew that was a completely fanciful thought, but Trump went ahead with it anyway.

So what happened? We import more steel today than ever, and our domestic production has declined. When steel got more expensive, so did oil, for example, because you need a whole lot of steel for the pipes for every new well. An oil consulting firm calculated that the costs of oil drilling in the United States increased by 30% solely because of these tariffs. The next time you swear when you fill up your car, don’t forget to give thanks where it’s due.

Trump’s stated goal was for the tariffs to help American industry and punish China, but they achieved the opposite result. A recent study by the US-China Business Council indicates that these Trump policies (along with China’s retaliation) have cost the United States 245,000 jobs. The purpose of this madness was to make America stronger, but it was like putting a gun to our heads and saying, “Stop or I’ll shoot.”

The US government brought in $79 billion in 2019 from tariffs, more than double the number of the previous two years. Since the purpose of tariffs is to change behavior, when more revenue comes from tariffs, it is a clear signal that they are not working. According to Forbesthese fares now cost American families more than $2,000 a year.

Beyond the fact that it was a terrible idea in the first place, it’s hard to understand why the current administration isn’t taking steps to correct the mistake. President Biden says he is “still thinking about it.“Really? Last year we imported over $3 trillion worth of goods from China, an increase of 31%! Although reciprocal tariffs on US agriculture are hurting us, there is little or no evidence that these tariffs have any impact other than increasing costs.

With inflation and the inability to grow our own industries (due to labor shortages), for the sake of American households, the Biden administration must stop this madness and undo the biggest increase in taxes in the history of the United States.

Mark Lewis, originally from Colorado, has had a long career in technology, including serving as CEO of several tech companies. He retired from tech last year and now writes thrillers. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds – Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.


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