Paul Ryan says his tax plan will be great for the poorest and most vulnerable people in America, and he tweeted a hypothetical to help you understand how that works: "Meet Cindy: a single mom, making $30,000 per year, who hopes to one day get beyond living paycheck to paycheck. With a $700 increase in her tax refund each year under our tax bill, Cindy can start saving for her future."
If Cindy is a single mom in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, where cruel austerity and attacks on trade unions and workers' rights have caused a massive collapse in the state's prosperity (while neighboring Minnesota is booming, thanks to redistributive policies), then she's entitled to a $7.50 minimum wage. But as a single mother, she'd need to earn $23.62/h and get 40 hours' a week worth of work to make a bare living wage.
But assume that Cindy decides to bank Paul Ryan's $700 a year, instead of using it to avoid having to visit food pantries and turn off the furnace on cold nights (and never touch a cent for medical emergencies, childcare or debt repayment). In ten years, Cindy has amassed $7000.
Paul Ryan, who is worth $6.4 million, thinks that $58/month for starving Cindy and her malnourished child will make more of a difference than a living wage, or universal health care, or a state pension so that Cindy can have a few minutes to look for a better job, rather than tending to her aging mother's bedsores.
The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) published "The High Cost of Being Poor in The U.S." in 2016, which documented the burdens forced upon those living in "deep poverty:"
For a family of four in 2015, the official poverty line was $24,257. According to the Census Bureau, 6.1 percent of Americans–19.4 million people–live in deep poverty, meaning they earn less than $12,129 for a family of four. Nearly 1 in 11 children (6.5 million) is this deeply poor. That's down from the previous year, but a higher proportion than in 2007, before the Great Recession. These families are especially prone to late fees for unpaid rent and eventual evictions, leading to frequent moves. Once they do find new housing, they often start out in the hole with a new landlord because they can't afford the first and last month's rent along with a security deposit.
…The House tax bill, even if one was to believe that $700 was a generous incentive, is no great class equalizer—if anything, low-income households will be made to watch as taxes are slashed even further for the wealthy, and that includes President Donald Trump and his family, who are likely to save an estimated to $1 billion should the bill pass in the Senate.
Ryan's "Cindy" will never be able to live without the specter of financial distress, beyond "paycheck to paycheck," unless there is a truly forceful and disruptive reconstruction of our society. Fifty-eight dollars a month will not improve the quality of life for the many Cindys that are pushed deep into the shadows of poverty by the boot of capitalism. But class struggle will.