Category Archives: Legislation

A lesson from history on the failure of GOP ‘trickle down’ economics

Republicans control the White House, both chambers of Congress, the tilt of the Supreme Court, more state legislative chambers than any time in history, and more governor’s offices than they have held in nearly a century. Republicans Expand Control in a Deeply Divided Nation.

This is the GOP’s high-water mark since 1929 — just before the Great Depression that GOP laissez faire economic policies brought about.

Historian Robert S. McElvaine, the author of “The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941,” warns at the Washington Post, I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

As a historian of the Great Depression, I can say: I’ve seen this show before.

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‘A Republican Party whose only purpose is to comfort the already extremely comfortable’

In Senate Tea-Publicans’ mad dash to rewrite the tax code on Friday, lawmakers added loopholes for the wealthy but tightened deductions for middle-income workers. Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Banks and Oil Industry:

The overhaul by Republican lawmakers of the nation’s tax laws percolated for weeks with virtually no public input, and by the end it turned into a chaotic mad dash with many last-minute changes on Friday night and Saturday morning, some handwritten in the margins of the nearly 500-page bill.

Even hours after the Senate vote, tax experts were scratching their heads over precisely what had made it into the final version of the bill and the impact of some significant provisions.

Still, it was clear that many changes expanded tax benefits for the wealthiest taxpayers, while other attempts to close loopholes fell by the wayside. The bill would add $1 trillion to deficits over the coming decade.

Far from simplifying taxes, the bill opened up a whole range of tactics [for busnesses] to lower the amount owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Lower Taxes for Top 1 Percent

One of the bill’s biggest windfalls for the wealthy — cutting taxes on income received through so-called pass-through entities like partnerships, popular with real estate developers — got even more generous. The richest taxpayers will be taxed at a rate of about 29.6 percent on such income, a big cut from the current top federal income tax rate of 39.6.

The ever-lengthening list of income that will be taxed at a cut-rate could be seen as “a Donald J. Trump loophole,” said Steven M. Rosenthal of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

That expansion would cost the government $114 billion more than an earlier version of the proposal. The provision would lower rates for taxpayers simply if their businesses are organized as partnerships or other entities whose tax burdens flow to the individual. Half of that type of income goes to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center. In total, that tax cut will cost the government about $476 billion over the coming decade.

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Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development: Legislative Update at DGT, Dec 4

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley at the recent joint health committee meeting.

Economic Inequality, Access to Care & Workforce Development will be the focus of my Legislative update at the Democrats of Greater Tucson Meeting on Monday, December 4.

Come on down and hear how Arizona could lessen economic inequality and improve access to care while developing new career paths. Also, hear about new legislation being proposed in these areas in 2018.

Mingling starts after 11:30 a.m., and the program starts at noon on the dot. For $10, you can enjoy the Chinese buffet at the Dragon View Restaurant.

If you live in LD9 and have not donated $5 to support my Clean Elections campaign, please bring an extra $5 to the luncheon. Can’t make it on Monday? You can donate $5 online here and watch my blog for more on this topic.

Senate passes GOP tax bill for the Oligarchy

While you were sleeping, the Senate passed the Senate GOP tax bill in the wee hours of Saturday morning on a party line vote of 51-49, with only Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who is retiring, having the courage of his convictions to vote no. Senate passes tax overhaul, securing major GOP victory:

Vice President Pence presided over the final passage vote. GOP senators, who stayed on the Senate floor until the vote closed after midnight, broke out into applause after Pence announced the bill had passed.

“This is a great day for the country,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said during a 2 a.m. press conference after the vote.

The headline from The Hill above is typical of the headlines appearing in other media today: a “major GOP victory.” The media makes it appear as if this bill has been enacted and awaits president Trump’s signature. This is reminiscent of president Trump and House Tea-Publicans kegger party at the White House after the House voted to repeal “Obamacare,” only to see it defeated in the Senate.

The Senate GOP tax bill could be voted upon by the House without any amendments, but that is highly unlikely because it contains provisions which are opposed by the radical GOP House Freedom Caucus. This bill is headed to a conference committee where the Senate and House versions of the bill will be reconciled into a conformed bill which both chambers must pass. There is still a chance that this terrible tax bill can be defeated in the next round.

And I would point out to the media that this was a “major victory” for millionaire and billionaire GOP campaign donors, because they are the ones who demanded this terrible tax bill in exchange for their campaign donations and they are the only ones who will ultimately benefit from the GOP tax bill in the end. The U.S. government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful. Major Study Finds The US Is An Oligarchy. And the lickspittle GOP servants of corporations and plutocrats who voted for this bill? Millionaires’ Club: For First Time, Most Lawmakers are Worth $1 Million-Plus. They voted to benefit themselves as well, the American people who elected them be damned.

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The Kate’s Law Parlay: A Bad Outcome on an Insane Bet

Two years ago, Donald Trump chose to demagogue a tragic death into political hay. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who had entered the country illegally five times, had killed Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old American.

Trump seized on the incident, using it to champion a law, which he dubbed “Kate’s Law,” that would sentence all second-time illegal border crossers to a minimum prison term of five years.

When I learned of this, I wrote about the absurdity of the proposed law in The Mystifying Math of Kate’s Law and Kate’s Law Sinking?. We would be criminalizing an act that is wrong only because we define it to be — crossing the border twice without proper documents —  based on some imaginary correlation between that act and violent crimes. And all based on the actions of one — that’s right, one — undocumented immigrant.

When I read about this two years ago, I assumed that the actual case against Zarate was airtight and that his taking of Steinle’s life was an especially heinous act.

Bad assumption on my part. Continue reading

Update on the Senate GOP tax bill clusterfuck (updated)

The  tragedy of the  political career of John McCain is that he is a man who frequently espouses high morals and principles and assails others for not having them, McCain: Trump doesn’t have any ‘principles and beliefs’, but he has regularly failed to live up to the very principles which he espouses. He is ultimately a “say anything” politician who plays to his fawning base, the beltway media and Arizona media, who treat him as if he is a senior statesman. McCain is and has always been nothing but a deeply flawed hypocrite.

On the same day McCain criticized our Twitter-troll-in-chief for not having any principles and beliefs, McCain demonstrated that he does not follow his own principles and beliefs, recently expressed in his August op-ed John McCain: It’s time Congress returns to regular order and his dramatic floor speech in the Senate chastising his colleagues prior to the vote on the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare.

Mr. “regular order” gave his consent to the Senate GOP tax bill which at this very moment is still being drafted with provisions no one has seen or read, a tax bill which Senate GOP leadership drafted in secret without Democratic input, committee hearings, stakeholder or public testimony or input (both stakeholders and the public are opposed to this terrible bill), and was just introduced last week, with only a markup before the Senate Finance Committee which reported out the bill on a party-line vote, so that it could be rushed to a vote by the end of this week before anyone could discover what is in it.

As Laurie Roberts of The Republic laments, John McCain’s support of tax reform bill is another ‘danged fence’ moment. Even when confronting his own mortality and having to answer before his God, John McCain simply would not do the right thing for the American people.

Other key developments in the GOP tax bill on Thursday: the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), employing magic asterisk dynamic scoring sprinkled with “trickle down” fairy dust, nevertheless says the Senate tax bill will add $1T to deficits, even with growth:

The Senate GOP tax bill won’t produce enough economic growth to fully pay for its tax cuts, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) said in an analysis released Thursday.

The bill’s macroeconomic effects would reduce the deficit by $408 billion over 10 years, but the bill overall would still cost about $1 trillion, the JCT said.

The JCT had earlier estimated that the bill would lose $1.4 trillion in federal revenue before accounting for economic growth.

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