Category Archives: Economics

Trump’s budget due on Tuesday: a war on the poor to pay for tax cuts for Plutocrats

Back in March the Washington Post ran this story: If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you:

If you’re a poor person in America, President Trump’s budget proposal is not for you.

Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.

During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed that the solution to poverty was giving poor people incentives to work. But most of the proposed cuts in his budget target programs designed to help the working poor, as well as those who are jobless, cope.

This is a budget that pulled the rug out from working families and hurts the very people who President Trump promised to stand up for in rural America and in small towns,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the poverty to prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where 1 in 3 people are living paycheck to paycheck — a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.

President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2018 will be released on Tuesday, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget announced last week.

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Rev. William Barber Is reviving Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Poor People’s Campaign’

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays movement that opposed North Carolina’s “most restrictive voting law in the nation,” recently scored a major victory against this TeaPublican tyranny. Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case:

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a restrictive North Carolina voting law that a federal appeals court had struck down as an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The court’s decision not to hear an appeal in the case effectively overturned one of the most far-reaching attempts by Republicans to counter what they contended, without evidence, was widespread voter fraud in North Carolina. The law rejected the forms of identification used disproportionately by blacks, including IDs issued to government employees, students and people receiving public assistance.

Fresh off this victory, Rev. Barber announced last week that he will step down as president of the North Carolina NAACP and lead a new national initiative that aims to end poverty and begin what Rev. Barber calls “a national moral revival.” The Nation reports, The Rev. William Barber Is Bringing MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign Back to Life:

This new Poor People’s Campaign will pick up where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. left off 50 years ago when he turned his focus to uniting poor people across lines of race and geography and pushing their priorities onto the federal agenda.

The campaign, which launches in partnership the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will bring together organizations with a longstanding commitment to confronting poverty and inequality—local and national groups such as Picture the Homeless in New York and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. Barber said a task force made up of poor people and economists, theologians, and other experts will in September release a report called “The Souls of Poor Folks” that will lay out the campaign’s agenda.

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The GOP sabotage of ‘Obamacare’ may come to a climax next week

There are a two events scheduled to occur next week on the “Obamacare” front that could affect the status of both “Obamacare” and the awful American Health Care Act passed in a rush by the Tea-Publican House a couple of weeks ago.

I previously gave you a backgrounder on the House GOP lawsuit House v. Price (née House v. Burwell) for which the next status report to the Court is due on Monday, May 22.  The Trump administration could opt to sabotage “Obamacare” by not funding the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and blowing up health insurance markets across the country.

The second scheduled event is the release of the nonpartisan Congresssional Budget Office (CBO) score for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, May 24. The CBO score for the Zombie Trumpcare bill is widely expected to be far worse than for the Trumpcare 2.0 bill.

And there is another complication that that “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin” and Ayn Rand fanboy, House Speaker Paul Ryan, did not seriously consider when he forced a House vote on the AHCA without the benefit of the CBO score.

NBC News reports, Uh-Oh: The House May Need to Vote on Health Care (Again!):

Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed on Friday that that the House may need to vote on the American Health Care Act a second time before the Senate can take up the bill, even as he stressed it was unlikely.

Republicans are using the budget “reconciliation” process to pass their health care bill, which allows them to push legislation through the Senate with a simple majority. But that depends on the bill meeting certain requirements — and one of them is that it reduces the deficit by at least $2 billion over the next decade.

The trouble is that Republicans voted on their House bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office, the federal agency that evaluates legislation, to finish its projections, which will be released on Wednesday.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday and NBC News confirmed that House leaders have not formally sent their bill to the Senate on the chance that it fails to meet the deficit requirements.

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Think the Senate will save us from the disastrous House AHCA bill? Think again

The conventional wisdom is that the U.S. Senate intends to rewrite its own health care bill from the wreckage of the disastrous American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House last week. The implication is that the Senate bill will be much better than the House bill.

The problem with conventional wisdom is that it is frequently wrong. There are Tea-Publicans in the Senate who are just as reckless and irresponsible, if not more so, than their counterparts in the House. Putting your faith in these “12 angry (white) men” and the Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle Mitch McConnell on the Senate AHCA working group is a foolish and risky bet.

AHCA Working Group

The Washington Post reports, Senate hard-liners outline health-care demands with Medicaid in the crosshairs:

Senate conservatives, once seen as an impediment to the Obamacare repeal push, are instead lobbying for changes that would drop millions of adults from Medicaid, limit the value of tax credits over concerns about funding abortion and weaken or cancel consumer protections.

Senators like Mike Lee (R-Utah) believe these changes will help reduce health-care spending, prevent tax-credit dollars from paying for abortions and expand access to health insurance by lowering premiums — all arguments supported by conservative advocacy groups.

And such changes are also looked on favorably by some House Republicans who don’t expect their version of the American Health Care Act to survive the Senate.

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Thank God it’s sine die!

No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” –Mark Twain

One of the worst legislative sessions in recent years mercifully came to an end on Wednesday evening. Thank God it’s sine die! Now bar the windows and doors of the capitol before they can come back and do any more harm.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona Legislature ends session with tax, welfare bills on final day:

State lawmakers ended their 2017 session Wednesday with a tax-break flourish, approving two tax-credit bills worth millions of dollars aimed at spurring business development, and a revision of a controversial cash-aid program for poor families.

The 122-day session ended at 6:58 p.m., a rare daytime close from a Legislature that has extended debate late into the night and into the morning in recent years. Lawmakers applauded the daylight end as a sign of the more genial tone of this year’s Legislature.

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Privileging the Income of the Privileged

[Cross-posted from Inequality.org]

The Trump tax plan reserves its highest rates for the income people actually labor to earn — and extends lavish preferential treatment to income from wealth.

Four years ago, my Institute for Policy Studies colleague Sam Pizzigati and I observed in the Los Angeles Times that we effectively have two tax systems in America: one that taxes wealth and the income derived from wealth and another that taxes the income from labor. Since 1980, the first of those systems, the “wealth-based system,” has become more forgiving. The “labor-based system,” by contrast, has become increasingly harsh, and a major chunk of the second system’s tax base has migrated into the first.

Those trends obviously place increasing pressure on the labor-based system. Ultimately, we noted, the movement towards complete reliance on the labor-based system would be unsustainable.

But President Trump disagrees. His recently announced tax proposal takes a giant step towards completely eliminating taxes on wealth. Continue reading