Category Archives: Economics

The ERA in the #MeToo Era

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Here I am– ironically talking about the ERA– while Reps. Don Shooter and Eddie Farnsworth stand in from of me. These micro-aggressions happened all the time.

I have given a number of speeches since the #MeToo stories started popping up on social media and since the powerful men started falling down. People regularly ask me about the Arizona efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Now, they also are asking me about sexual harassment in government.

My younger naive self experienced workplace sexual harassment perpetrated by much older men. Like Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, I made my own #MeToo post on Facebook, but mine focused on men from my past– not on men in the Arizona Legislature.

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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.

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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.

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Congress Candidate Ann Kirkpatrick Vows to Take on GOP

Vowing to take on the Republican leadership over unfair tax reform, trashing the environment, and sabotaging education, Congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick said it’s time for a Democrat to represent Tucson in Washington.

She got a warm welcome at the Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting on Monday.

“My focus is on holding (House majority leader) Paul Ryan accountable,” she said. “He is complicit. We have a slight chance of taking back the majority in the House, and we could be a check on Trump and hold him responsible.”

Kirkpatrick is considered the favorite by national news outlets in the crowded Democratic race to take back Congressional District 2. “Hillary won by 5 points in this district, and it should be a Democratic seat,” she said. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Kirkpatrick in its Red to Blue program, which highlights strong Democratic candidates and opens doors to donors.

Kirkpatrick has the endorsement of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Rep. Ruben Gallego, EMILY’s List and End Citizens United.
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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.

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The GOP Tax Plan Will Complete the Destruction of America’s Middle Class Wealth

In fact, if the GOP tax plan becomes law, we may be looking at a future where our 1,600 richest hold more wealth than the nation’s entire middle class.

The wealth of America’s middle class, under siege for four decades, is now hanging on life support. That life will end if the basic Republican tax plan, as now envisioned by House and Senate majorities, ever becomes law.

By “middle class,” we mean America’s “Middle 40,” that stratum of American households that has more wealth than the nation’s poorest 40 percent and less wealth than the nation’s most affluent 20 percent.

In 2001, according to the Federal Reserve’s recently released Survey of Consumer Finances, the most systematic official survey of who owns what in the United States, the nation’s Middle 40 held 15.2 percent of the country’s wealth.

The new century has not been kind. By 2016, that share had dropped to 10.6 percent, a figure that leaves the entire Middle 40 — about 128 million Americans in all — sharing  slightly less wealth than the 32,000 exorbitantly wealthy individuals who make up the nation’s richest .01 percent.  In other words, each American in that top .01 percent holds as much wealth as 4,000 of the Americans in the Middle 40.

Continue reading at Inequality.org

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.

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