Category Archives: Budgets

Ignoring bad optics, GOP conferees transfer even more wealth to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors (Updated)

Despite the fact that The Republican tax plan is the most unpopular bill in 30 years, GOP conferees are transfering even more wealth to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors. Tea-Publicans simply do not care what this looks like to average Americans, they are obligated to deliver a quid pro quo to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors. They are looting the treasury on behalf of the oligarchy.

CNBC reports, The Latest: GOP agrees to lower top tax rate for individuals:

Congressional aides say Republican negotiators have agreed to lower the top tax rate for individuals from 39.6 percent to 37 percent as the final parameters of a sweeping tax package are starting to take shape.

The agreement was confirmed by two congressional aides who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private negotiations.

The tax cut could be a windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It could also provide ammunition for Democrats who complain that the tax package is a massive giveaway to corporations and the rich.

* * *

Congressional aides say Republican negotiators have agreed to set the corporate income tax rate at 21 percent as part of last-minute negotiations on a sweeping tax package.

Both the Senate bill and the House bill would lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. But negotiators agreed to bump the rate up to 21 percent to offset revenue losses from other tax breaks, said two congressional aides.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.

Business and conservative groups have lobbied hard to keep the corporate rate at 20 percent.

Continue reading

Treasury Department engages in #GopTaxScam

The Treasury Department failed to produce an economic analysis of the GOP tax bill before the House and Senate votes, despite the year-long promises from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. This resulted in the Inspector general launches inquiry into whether Treasury hid Republican tax bill analysis

The Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched an inquiry into whether the department hid an analysis of the Republican tax bill — or even did one at all.

* * *

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote to Treasury Inspector General Eric M. Thorson on Thursday asking for an inquiry after a New York Times article said members of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which would do such an analysis, said they were not working on one.

“Either the Treasury Department has used extensive taxpayer funds to conduct economic analyses that it refuses to release because those analyses would contradict the Treasury secretary’s claims, or Secretary Mnuchin has grossly misled the public about the extent of the Treasury Department’s analysis,” Warren wrote. “I am deeply concerned about either possibility.”

Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said Thursday the office had launched an inquiry and that it was a “top priority.”

Yesterday, Treasury released a one-page “analysis” that is a sick joke. Treasury Defends Tax Plan Cost With One-Page Analysis:

The Treasury Department released a one-page analysis of the nearly 500-page Senate tax bill on Monday that suggested the $1.5 trillion plan would more than pay for itself, assuming the economy grows much faster than any independent analysis of the bill has projected.

The Treasury acknowledged that its analysis was based on optimistic economic forecasts that assumed a host of policy changes yet to be enacted, including increased infrastructure spending, further loosening of business regulations and changes to welfare programs.

The analysis left many tax experts scratching their heads and prompted criticism that the Treasury was offering misleading data.

Continue reading

The #Flakesonaplane saga continues

You may have missed this story last week. On flight to Phoenix, man with ALS pleads with Sen. Jeff Flake to vote no on tax bill:

A 33-year-old father battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was flying home last week after traveling to Washington, D.C., to protest the tax bill when he came face-to-face with one of the lawmakers he most hoped to influence.

Ady Barkan and others had spent a week trying to get lawmakers’ attention and giving speeches outside their offices.

So when he heard Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was on his American Airlines flight to Phoenix, he saw his moment.

“He is the single most important swing vote in this tax bill, and I need to tell him my story to vote against it,” he recalled in an interview with the Arizona Republic on Friday.

‘I wanted him to hear my story’

Barkan said he was a “healthy person” just a year ago. Now he lives with ALS, an incurable disease that destroys nerve cells in the body.

“I walk with a cane. I have trouble breathing, and I can’t pick my baby up,” he said in one of the videos, which were recorded and posted by Liz Jaff, a passenger he met while boarding the plane.

“I wanted him to hear my story and answer some questions and hopefully persuade him to vote against it,” Barkan told The Republic.

Continue reading

GOP tax bill: the devil is in the details to derailing this terrible bill

The House and Senate conference committee will be meeting this week to hash out the differences between the House and Senate GOP tax bills to come up with a conformed bill that still must be passed by both chambers to become law.

There is a scenario or two in which this terrible tax bill falls apart. Jim Newell writes at Slate, How the Tax Deal Could Fall Apart:

The biggest development this week was that negotiators, for the first time in the process, seriously looked at reinstating some version of the state and local income tax deduction. There appear to be two reasons for this. The first would be the sizable, and mercurial, California GOP delegation in the House. Eleven out of 14 of these members voted for the original House bill—an odd move, since one of the bill’s ambitions is to redistribute Californian wealth elsewhere. Rather than flex their leverage in the original fight, though, they put their faith in Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to ensure it’s fixed in conference. The second reason—and the one that explains why Californians might prevail—is that they appear to have an even greater ally in this fight than McCarthy: President Trump. The Washington Post reported this week that Trump’s rich friends in New York have been bitching to him about the SALT elimination. That goes a long way.

Even a modest retention would be costly. Eliminating the deductibility of state and local income taxes is a major revenue-raiser in both the House and Senate bills. Other pay-fors that were included in both the House and Senate bills might not last in the joint negotiations as well. There is a flat-out error in the Senate bill regarding the corporate alternative minimum tax, and the Senate’s last-minute decision to keep the individual AMT is meeting resistance as well. The House bill, which more aggressively pursued deductions for graduate students and those with major medical expenses, is also expected to be tamed.

What all this means is that conference negotiators are under pressure to find some hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue to keep the bill’s net cost within $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Continue reading

Education Shorts

Catching up on my “to do” list on education issues in Arizona.

In late November, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new analysis of school funding in 48 states which shows that funding for Arizona’s kindergarten to grade 12 public school system remains nearly 14 percent below what it was before the Great Recession hit in 2007. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Arizona school funding still lagging, report shows:

The study by the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research institute showed that even with an infusion of money since Gov. Doug Ducey took office in 2016, the state’s per-pupil spending is well below its 2008 funding levels when adjusted for inflation. It also said per-pupil formula spending dropped last year by 1.2 percent.

Ducey has touted his efforts to boost K-12 spending, and laughingly proclaimed himself to be the “education governor.”

“Arizona has put more money into K-12 education over the last three years than any other state in the country, without raising taxes,” he told KTAR radio earlier this month. “It has been the focus of every budget that we’ve had.”

But much of that increase came from settling a lawsuit brought by schools that alleged the state illegally cut spending during the recession. [And that case was settled for substantially less than the restitution actually owed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for its theft of education funds.]  The settlement added some state spending but most of the new cash came from increasing withdrawals from the state land trust dedicated to schools.

The study found that Arizona school funding hasn’t recovered from the cuts despite the new spending and could be getting worse, said Mike Leachman, the center’s state fiscal research director.

“It’s clear that Arizona school funding is down significantly and the data we have suggest further worsening at least in terms of formula funding, which is the major source for general support for all school districts in the state,” he said.

Continue reading

Study: The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth

Those GOP plutocrat campaign donors really need their tax cuts (not). Christopher Ingraham reports,  The richest 1 percent now owns more of the country’s wealth than at any time in the past 50 years:

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Wolff’s data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period. Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 8.03.19 AM

Continue reading