The federal government's emerging tax plan has been called many names, not all of them complimentary. Ronald Brownstein, writing for The Atlantic, calls the bill an 11th-hour raid by the wealthiest baby boomers:

The baby boom is being evicted from the penthouse of American politics. And on the way out, it has decided to trash the place.

Over on Twitter, it seems everyone is blaming the boomers. I can't quote many of them because of the inappropriate language — but it's clear that young people have reason to be swearing. The final bill is not done, but it's clear that the rich get permanent tax cuts, corporations get a huge reduction in the tax rate, they can set themselves up as corporations and "pass through" income, significantly cutting taxes even further.

Meanwhile, university tuition is no longer tax deductible and graduate students will actually have to pay tax on waived tuition fees. It makes health care more expensive. The tax reductions for lower tax brackets run out in 10 years, by which time taxes will have to go up to pay for the increased national debt. Brownstein writes:

The House and Senate measures shower enormous benefits on households at the top of the economic ladder, a group that by all indications is older and whiter than the population overall. Then it hands the bill for those benefits largely to younger generations, who will pay through more federal debt; less spending on programs that could benefit them; and, eventually, higher taxes.

It really does look like Brownstein and the tweeters are right, that this is an attack on the young by the boomers. And after writing posts like Are baby boomers a generation of sociopaths? — which blamed everything that's wrong in the world on the baby boomers — it would be easy for me to make the case.

But that's not the whole story

This person raises a good point: There are a LOT of baby boomers who are going to be hurt by this. A lot of them earn less than $75,000 per year and will see their taxes increase. They're going to have more trouble finding health insurance. AARP, which represents older citizens, says:

The legislation would lead to an enormous increase in the deficit over the next decade, prompting immediate cuts to Medicare, and putting increasing pressure on Social Security, Medicaid and other programs vital to older Americans. The bill would hike taxes or provide no tax relief for millions of seniors, and millions of them could pay sharply higher health care premiums, other key reasons AARP could not support the plan.

private jetBut if you have a private jet, you get a benefit. If you own a corporation, you get a tax benefit. If you set yourself up as a corporation, you get a big pass-through benefit. And in one of the most egregious examples of unfairness, most public schools are funded by state and local taxes, but under the new plan being cobbled together, those taxes would no longer be deductible. Meanwhile, tax deductible savings plans designed for university can now be applied to K-12, which benefits young but rich people. As noted in Quartz:

That means that the "school tuition" that parents of public school kids are paying, in the form of state and local taxes, isn’t deductible from their federal taxes, and public schools themselves will have less money to spend on kids. But rich families who can afford private school get a brand new tax break.

It's easy to blame the baby boomers for this, since many of the politicians who passed this bill are baby boomers or older. But it's not an inter-generational war; it's a class war and a culture war: the rich and suburban (who tend to be older and whiter) against the cities, the middle class, the universities and the poor who go to public schools.

In some ways, we would be better off if this was the last gasp of boomers trashing the place. In an intergenerational war, time is on the side of the young. Class wars are harder, and they sometimes end in revolution.

Let’s hope this one doesn’t.

Lloyd Alter ( @lloydalter ) writes about smart (and dumb) tech with a side of design and a dash of boomer angst.