Tag Archives: Tax Cuts

GOP Tax Plan: A Complete Social Restructuring of the United States

4 Dec

Welcome to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 500 pages of far-right dreams smashed together in two weeks and rushed to a vote in the middle of the night. While there is an enormous amount of this plan that we should all be mortified about — specifically how it hoards wealth for the top 20% of Americans and steals money from the poor and middle class — there is far more going on here, much of which has little to do with tax “reform.”  I worry that most people are not paying attention to everything it does over time, as evidenced by the fact that most of the people who voted to rush this through have not even read the whole plan, nor have there been any substantive hearings or analysis provided. This massive document is also difficult to read because much of the marginalia is hand written scribbles, eliminating even concerned senators’ ability to read and understand the implication of the entire document before voting on it.

In addition to the sociopathic maldistribution of wealth this plan secures, the social ramifications are profound and are antithetical to what we have worked so hard to accomplish in the ways of equity in the past 100 years.  For example, this plan includes Medicare reductions that will end cancer treatment for people on Medicare. Yes, you read that correctly. This sounds like a death panel to me, and it should not come as a surprise, given that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been working to dismantle Medicare for years now. Oh, and as an added bonus it eliminates the Individual Mandate from the Affordable Care Act, basically robbing 13 MILLION Americans of coverage.

As outlined in the Chronicle of Higher Education, this bill creates even more barriers for people who are not in the top 20% of Americans to afford a college education. For example, this bill puts additional taxes on charitable donations to colleges that allow for financial aid. Small liberal arts colleges are heavily dependent on charitable gifts to survive. The message is quite clear, the GOP does not value education, as further evidence that Betsy DeVos is the secretary of Education. People do your homework here! Obviously, the lack of access to eduction benefits the GOP, as it encourages ignorance and precludes critical thinking skills: skills that would allow people to ask questions of the government, the people that are supposed to be public servants.

Another alarming part of this bill — so alarming I needed to get my smelling salts just to be able to write this — is the reversal of The Johnson Amendment. Yes, this is part of the Religious Freedom Act (specifically Christian agenda freedom) coming from the far right wing, which now controls our government. The Johnson Amendment, created by LBJ in 1954, prohibits all non-profits, or what is called a 501 (c) (3) from making any type of political endorsement or stand to lose their tax exempt status. Trump and his henchmen are now about to reverse this in this tax plan, but ONLY for churches, allowing them to become tax-free lobbying organizations. So much for separation of church and state.

The bill slashes the corporate tax rate, eliminates the bulk of the estate tax, and changes “pass-through” business taxation in a way that benefits only the wealthiest of business owners. These changes are PERMANENT. The tweaks that MIGHT make a small change for poor and middle class taxpayers expire within the first three years. At the end of ten years, the vast majority of households making $75,000 or less will see their taxes rise, often by 20% or more.

Many deductions are eliminated or severely curtailed including bike-to-work incentives, moving expenses, most mortgage and home sale deductions, tax preparation deductions, and disaster relief deductions. State and local tax deductions are greatly reduced, penalizing blue states that fund federal programs for red states.

The bill will increase the deficit by at LEAST $1 TRILLION. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility. Deficit hawks like Sen. Flake and Sen McCain (the Arizona Stooges) believe that wealth will trickle down as businesses have more revenue, even though EVERY major corporation interviewed has indicated that the vast majority of this revenue will be used to pay bonuses and reward stockholders, giving no benefit to the average American. Sen. Murkowski sold out her constituents in exchange for getting drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yeah, that’s a tax issue… Sen. Collins accepted a fig leaf promise for a vote someday on an ACA bill that won’t come close to solving the problems caused by the loss of the individual mandate. Sens. Johnson and Daines pretended that minor changes to the pass-through rules would help small business owners. Overall, over 20% of Republican Senators had major objections to the bill but voted for it with vague changes and vaguer promises.

The most nefarious impact is yet to come. As that big deficit hole comes into reality, Republicans will certainly use it to insist on austerity measures. This is a feature, not a bug. As the deficit grows, they will insist that Social Security, medicaid, and medicare be slashed to balance the budget.

Our only hope for derailing this monstrosity is putting pressure on the conference process that will reconcile the House bill (awful in many different ways) with the Senate abomination. Getting the House to accept all the little tweaks and odditities may be difficult, and losing them may make the final bill impossible to pass again in the Senate.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators and demand that they stop this horrible bill. It’s not tax “reform”, it won’t serve the middle class, it crushes the poor, and it includes elements that will reshape the social network and basic protections that we rely on today into something mean, nasty, and unrecognizable.

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Bigot of the Week Award: August 3, House Democrats Opposing Tax Fairness

3 Aug

Bigot of the Week

This week 19 House Democrats put self-interest ahead of leadership and bailed on a key piece of legislation. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exceeded all expectations and crafted a brilliant deal that allowed a great tax cut compromise to pass the Senate. The bill extended the cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year, protecting the middle class during the fragile economic recovery. By ending the cuts for those with higher incomes, it also introduced greater fairness into the tax system–truly a broken clock moment for our Harry Reid.

The bill was unlikely to pass in the House, of course, but it sent a strong message. The Republicans in the House shot it down on Wednesday — big shock. Sadly, 19 Democrats voted against the bill, joining the Republican chorus of class warfare. The majority of the 19 Representatives who crossed the aisle were so-called Blue Dog Democrats (or what I like to call Tea Bag Democrats), a loose caucus of “moderate and conservative” Democrats. Many are also in tight re-election contests or in badly gerrymandered new districts. These are not sufficient excuses.

It is a given that most Republicans will not vote for the Democrat. It is also true that the Senate approach to the tax cuts is very popular (polling at or above 60%), especially with independent voters and in swing states. What these 19 cowards have done is sold out the middle class and the most vulnerable for a callous political calculation. Why should Democratic voters in their districts care about showing up at the polls if they are offered a choice between two people who vote against them? Why should independent voters prefer a Democrat if that person voted against their preferences? Shame on you, Representatives! Bad dogs!

Personally, I am sad to see Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon’s 5th District on this list and grateful that the recent redistricting moved me into Rep. Blumenauer’s district. Oregonians are hurting, Rep. Schrader; why did you vote against 98% of them?

Wednesday Word of the Week, August 24

24 Aug

The smaller you are, the bigger your burden.

This week’s word is: INCREASE

to make something become larger in amount or number

Specifically an increase in TAX

an amount of money that you have to pay to the government that it uses to provide public services and pay for government institutions.

payments.

The modern Republican party, especially filtered through the Great Tea Bag, maintains that its members are adamantly opposed to any increases in taxes. This apparently simple fact has motivated two of the biggest political fights of the past year.

Last December, the Obama administration largely capitulated to anti-tax purists even before the House of Representatives moved to Teabagistan. In order to maintain unemployment benefits, Congress and the White House perpetuated the odious Bush tax cuts. Earlier this month, as part of the debt ceiling debacle, GOP leaders in Congress again refused to entertain any increases in revenue – especially tax rates – as part of any deal.

Seems like a pretty clear position, doesn’t it? Except that now, when the payroll tax deductions that were included in the December Nightmare are set to expire, GOP leaders refuse to discuss an extension. Take a look at this simple math: if a 2% reduction in taxes expires, then taxes go up by 2%. That is, by any reasonable definition, a tax increase.

What say the Republicans?

“We don’t need short-term gestures. We need long-term fundamental changes in our tax structure and our regulatory structure that people who create jobs can rely on,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., when asked about the payroll tax matter.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy,” said spokesman Brad Dayspring.

Except, of course, that both men voted for a short-term measure last December. What is the biggest difference between the two issues? The Bush tax cut extension primarily benefits the very wealthy. The payroll tax cut primarily benefits the middle class.

Tea Party members can bloviate all they like about keeping taxes low, government small, and Americans empowered. At the end of the day, however, the party they support only really seems to care about keeping taxes low for corporations and the super-rich. Everyone else can just pay up.

We Must Protect the Rich At All Costs (?)

24 Feb

Help Protect The Super Rich

“Hey, all of you jobless and soon to be homeless, can you spare a dime for the wealthiest of the wealthy?” It would seem that when Congress passed the law that protected the super rich from taxes for the next two years, they also sealed the fate for those that are middle class or lower. So is it really any surprise that the gap between rich and poor has widened into a chasm–that we continue to become a country of haves and have nots?  To add insult to injury, the current House of Representatives, controlled by John (He makes me cry) Boehner and his cadre of white cronies continue to introduce legislation that works AGAINST the American people. So much for civil servants. Yes, let’s eliminate social programs, social services, healthcare; let’s do everything in our power to make the poor even poorer. Most of us better get used to eating cat food soon.  When will we see the breaking point? When will we be inspired by the good working class of Wisconsin railing against the rich and health-insured GOP that has now proposed to use physical violence against the working class protesters?  When do we stop thanking the rich for raping us?  See the full article here.

No Health Care for You, America…

13 Dec

Are there no poor houses? No prisons? Judge Hudson of Virginia, appointed by George W. Bush, has ruled that the new health care plan’s mandate for all Americans to be insured is unconstitutional.  What lovely timing.  When Obama has yielded to big money Republicans while chiding the very Democrats that compromised themselves into pretzel shapes, now we have more caving in of the dreams we held out when we voted for Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In.”  I’m not sure that word means what he thinks it means.  Pushing for tax cuts for the rich and going back on his promise to repeal DADT is not exactly the “Change” I had in mind when I was hoping to finally get rid of the Old Republican Guard.  Judge Hudson, who does have health insurance thanks to us tax payers, has a long history in Republican politics in northern Virginia, continued a partisan pattern in the health care cases.  If this does go to the Supreme Court, the Fecal Five are sure to preclude health care for the average American.   Here is the entire NYT article.

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