When the Los Angeles County Metro Board voted last month to award a $45 million contract for electric buses to a company that promised to hire minorities and ex-convicts, community activists cheered.
“A job gives people meaning, it gives them a sense of who they are and what they can do,” said one.
There’s general agreement across the political spectrum that jobs are a good thing. The disagreement is over what it takes to create them.
Should taxes be higher so the government can spend more money on contracts with companies that will hire people? Or should taxes be lower so businesses can be more profitable and hire people as they grow?
Metro is buying 2,200 new electric buses, but everyone in L.A. County is paying an extra 2 percent sales tax to fund the transit system. The higher tax raises prices to the consumer. If that leads to lower sales and less profit for businesses, employees can see their hours cut or lose their jobs.
And they’re not all going to find new jobs working for the bus company.
On a larger scale, this is the argument in Washington, D.C., over tax reform. President Trump wants to cut business taxes to stimulate economic growth and job creation. He’s facing opposition from people who call this policy a giveaway to corporations.
Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House legislative director Marc Short spoke about tax reform at an event that was sponsored by two conservative groups, Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity, and protested by a liberal group, Americans for Tax Fairness.
The protest organizers sent out a news release urging media organizations to “send cameras.” They promised that “impacted people will share their stories via bullhorn” while participants held “brightly colored signs.”
Inside the building, Mnuchin said tax reform would give individuals more money in their pockets and help businesses expand. “This is about creating jobs, this is about creating wage growth,” he said.
Outside the building, the protesters vowed to fight tax cuts for “millionaires and corporations” that they said would be “paid for by cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and middle class priorities.”
But that line of thinking omits something crucially important and too often overlooked. People who have jobs pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems, and they pay income taxes that help to fund the rest of the government, Medicaid and education included. They pay…