LivAbility Magazine
Phil Pangrazio wears a dark cap and dark shirt, and smiles at the camera.

Story by Phil Pangrazio

Now that 2017 is in the rearview mirror, we look forward to 2018. What lies ahead for people with disabilities is anyone’s guess. By the time you read this, several shoes may have already dropped.

Tax reform, if passed, will have the greatest impact. The fate of the Affordable Care Act is not far behind. As for tax reform, it may seem like a good thing for most Americans. Who doesn’t want to pay less in taxes? I do and I’m sure you do too!

Republicans argue that if we lower both corporate and individual tax rates, the economy will flourish and millions of jobs will be created. They argue that American companies will repatriate their overseas investments and bring businesses and tax dollars back to our shores. But is this likely? Haven’t we heard this sort of rhetoric before? Just screaming it loud and often doesn’t make it true. Think Reaganomics and trickle down. How well did that work? Most economists agree, not very well. In fact, most agree that income and wealth disparity and inequality in the U.S. has never been greater.

While lowering taxes may sound like a great idea for many Americans,
it has major consequences for our country and economy. Taxes are what build our bridges, roads, water, sewer and transit systems. Taxes pay for our public hospitals and schools, teachers, police and firefighters. Taxes fund our military. And yes, taxes support our safety-net programs for low income people, the elderly and disabled. None of these programs are perfect and abuses do occur, but without them, the greatest nation on earth would not stand at 241 years old. These are public goods worth investing in!

As has been pointed out by many sources, the Republican tax reform plans have been designed to provide significant tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else, particularly the poor and people with disabilities. According to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, the proposed reforms would increase the federal deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. Is this good for our economy?

Republicans may think so as deficits justify budget cuts. To them, deficits mean that government is inefficient and is spending too much. Therefore, we must starve the beast and cut programs that average Americans rely upon such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and more. I believe this will be devastating for our country and our people!

So where do we go from here? I think we must keep fighting and resisting. We must understand that progress often includes taking steps back before we can move forward again. We must learn from our mistakes and avoid the divisiveness of the daily noise that bombards us. We are all in this together. And yes, there are real people struggling, both disabled and non-disabled.

Americans are truly frustrated and fed-up. Many feel let down and abandoned. Others feel exploited, used and resentful. Much has contributed to these feelings such as the economy, globalism, technology, news media, fake news, political rhetoric and tweeting, just to name a few. What’s important is to never give in to the powers that are trying to divide us for personal gain. The 2018 midterm elections are right around the corner. This will be the first step in reclaiming our power!