Our Missing $10 Trillion: Tax cuts from the Bush, Obama, and Trump years have left a massive gap in the public coffers. This hurts everyone.

A trillion dollars, a figure with twelve zeros after a one, is by any measure a ton of money. It’s near impossible to comprehend how much a trillion is.

So, it’s admittedly hard to comprehend a new report that tallies the combined tax cuts of the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations from the year 2000 to the time they’re fully implemented in 2025 at over $10 trillion. Of that $10 trillion, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found, a whopping $2 trillion will have gone exclusively to the top 1 percent.

Sounds like big numbers, huh?

The Endowment for Human Development offers some tidy tips for visualizing a trillion. They point out that if you took a trillion one-dollar bills and laid them end-to-end, it would measure longer than the distance from the earth to the sun.

Spending a trillion dollars, at a rapid-fire clip of $20 per second, would take more than 1,500 years before you ran out of money.

So yes, when we’re talking about trillions, we’re talking about a lot, a lot, a lot of money. And what this new report really shows is a metric-crap-ton of cash going to the already exceptionally wealthy. That’s a problem.

The past four decades have seen a dramatic increase in income and wealth inequality as the rich have continued to get richer while the rest of the economy has stagnated. The lopsided tilt of the tax code plays no small part.

As this new report points out, it’s not just the Trump tax cuts. Bush cut taxes too, especially for the rich, and Obama extended many of the Bush tax cuts.

And at last the results have arrived. Put very simply, the top 1 percent of households will pay $111 billion less this year alone in federal taxes combined than they would have if the laws had remained unchanged since 2000.

The Trump tax cuts have rightfully generated a tremendous amount of press coverage. A lot of that press coverage has accurately pointed out that the tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the rich. Trump’s claims that his tax package would usher in wage and job growth have been proven utterly false. Instead, the wealthiest households and most profitable corporations have gotten big tax breaks while everyone else remains relatively stagnant.

Why should you care about the tax status of the ultra-wealthy?

Consider what gets lost when funds are diverted from the public good to private fortunes.

Since the Trump cuts were passed last December, Congress has debated a budget that includes major cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. They’ve considered cuts to programs families depend on to live — like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutrition assistance to half the babies born in the United States.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that choosing to cut taxes on the rich while cutting vital programs is taking food out of babies’ mouths.

Meanwhile, our nation’s transportation infrastructure is in shambles. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s infrastructure a D+ and calls for $2 trillion in increased investment over ten years to get back up to a passing grade. That number sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

So, ask yourself, would you rather have the wealthiest 1 percent be $2 trillion wealthier, or would you rather have safe and sound roads and bridges?

Hindsight is helpful, but only if we put its lessons into practice. Will we repeat our mistakes of the past 20 years and head further towards extreme inequality? Or will we invest in our public good and ask those at the top pay their fair share?

Josh Hoxie directs the project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure shows that more than 45 million people (14 percent of us) were impoverished in 2016. The rates are even higher for children under age 18 and seniors.

But that’s only the beginning. Almost 100 million more live at 200 percent of the poverty line, a more accurate indicator of a family’s ability to make ends meet.

All told, around 43 percent of us are poor or low-income, a report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Poor People’s Campaign found. And nearly half of all U.S. citizens would be unable to afford a $400 emergency, as per a 2016 Federal Reserve study. Disproportionately affected are people of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, single mothers, children and transgender people.

In cynically declaring the War on Poverty a success, the Trump administration is attempting to justify its War on Poor People. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently proposed tripling rents on those receiving housing benefits and imposing work requirements. The GOP-controlled House passed a farm bill that would add onerous work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps.

And this spring, Trump signed an executive order declaring his intention to force people who receive food assistance, Medicaid and low-income housing subsidies to adhere to strict work requirements or lose their critical subsistence benefits. Perversely titled “Reducing Poverty in America,” this directive aims to remove access to the same assistance programs that have alleviated the effects of poverty.

Food and nutrition assistance, Medicaid and subsidized housing have actually proved highly effective. Most of the people receiving these benefits who are able to work do work — but in jobs with low pay, no benefits and unpredictable schedules.

Block granting and strict work requirements on cash-assistance programs have already put that help out of reach for many families, leaving them unable to afford basic necessities. To do the same to noncash assistance programs — such as for those that provide food, housing or health care — would put those things out of reach for the families who need them most.

It’s not a question of funds. We’re a nation of riches, but those riches benefit only those at the top. Starting in the 1970s, the IPS-Poor People’s Campaign report found, employers no longer shared the benefits of increased productivity with the workers who produced it. Between 1973 and 2016, hourly wages grew by about 12 percent, while productivity increased by nearly 74 percent.

Further, so-called right-to-work laws have systematically dismantled workers’ collective bargaining power to negotiate fairer wages and better working conditions. And a surge of voter suppression laws are keeping many of those most affected by these policies — such as the poor and people of color — away from the polls.

Meanwhile, the United States now spends more on the military than it did even at the height of the Korean or Vietnam wars.

To stop the War on Poor People, we need a moral movement. We need good jobs that pay a living wage. We need an accurate assessment of who is poor — based on things such as adequate housing, health care, water, sanitation, child care, sufficient wages and assistance when needed. And we need to look critically at how poverty goes hand in hand with social forces such as racism, militarism and environmental destruction.

What we don’t need is a declaration of a victory against poverty from the same people who have been trying to dismantle anti-poverty programs for decades.