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Democrat challenger Aaron Anthony: Keith Rothfus is taxing your children

| Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District shared their views at a forum in Delmont on Friday, Jan. 5, 2017. From left to right are candidates Tom Prigg, Aaron Anthony, Ray Linsenmayer and Beth Tarasi.
Jacob Tierney | Tribune-Review
Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District shared their views at a forum in Delmont on Friday, Jan. 5, 2017. From left to right are candidates Tom Prigg, Aaron Anthony, Ray Linsenmayer and Beth Tarasi.

Happy New Year, everyone. To recap where we left off in 2017, House Republicans jammed through a last-minute, $1.5 trillion tax bill — netting corporations and the super-rich big gains while working-class families will actually see their taxes increase within a few years. And your children and their children will be paying for this for decades to come.

In his recent column “A new/old plan for growth” , U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus wrote in defending his tax bill that “the millennial generation, which never saw the healthy growth of the mid- to late-'80s and '90s, were robbed of the opportunity to develop their skills and talents in fulfilling careers.” As a member of the largest group of working Americans — millennials — I would like to share a bit of our take on the tax bill. The true robbery hasn't even started yet.

The opportunity to be more successful than our parents is embedded in the American promise; unfortunately, we are the first generation of Americans to be worse off than our parents. Thanks in large part to the Great Recession and the reckless policies that caused it, those of us born between 1980 and 2000 have lower rates of homeownership and employment than our parents did at the same age. One in five of us lives in poverty, and on top of it all, we carry the heaviest student-debt burden in history. Meanwhile, wages have stagnated while the prices of every basic foothold — education, health care, housing — have soared.

The GOP tax plan exacerbates these challenges. For starters, consider health care. In the coming years, 13 million Americans — 500,000 here in Pennsylvania alone — are expected to lose health coverage without the individual mandate, prompting even more cost hikes to those with insurance. Millions of millennials rely on CHIP — the Children's Health Insurance Program — to keep our kids healthy. Yet Rothfus and his colleagues prioritized changes to the estate tax benefiting just 5,500 of the wealthiest families over providing health-care coverage for 9 million children. That's one taxable estate for every 1,640 children using CHIP.

The president and the GOP have tried to frame the tax bill as a gift to the middle class. What a joke. Rothfus calls himself a deficit hawk, but this legislation shows his true allegiance to the “1 percent,” deficit be damned. How else would he explain championing a $1.5 trillion deficit-busting tax plan that includes temporary cuts for middle-income families but permanent cuts for corporations and the mega-rich? Not a single credible economic evaluation of the tax plan forecasts the kind of growth we'd need for the bill to pay for itself.

What's worse, this tax plan paves the way for congressional Republicans to further dismantle the institutions we've charged to ensure a fair and level playing field. Families like mine with incomes of less than $75,000 will be paying more by 2025 — all so that multimillionaires get a little (who am I kidding, a lot) extra. Over that time, we will continue to see the basic things previous generations have taken for granted — affordable college, health-care coverage, a secure retirement — continue to evaporate as historic inequalities deepen.

The only way we can restore faith in the American promise of opportunity is to vote out those who put the profits of the few before the good of the many. Rothfus and his peers have done enough damage; it's time for the next generation to take the lead. After all, we're the ones who will be paying for this tax bill for the rest of our lives.

Aaron Anthony, of Shaler, is a Democrat candidate for U.S. representative for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District.

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