Keep Your Eye
On the Ball!
So, the day before Thanksgiving we’ve got Charlie Rose, John Conyers, and Donald Trump endorsing Roy Moore dominating the headlines. There’s also Trump’s continued Tweet War with any Black athlete (or member of a Black athlete’s family) as he goes after LaVar Ball and Marshawn Lynch for being “ungrateful” and “un-patriotic,” respectively. The “President’s” embarrassing “pardoning” of two turkeys (who join Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Trump’s pardon list) was also prominent on cable news, too. What wasn’t in the news this week? The Republican tax cut/”reform” bill, that’s what. And the Democrats, once again, are dropping the ball. While gaining the Alabama Senate seat may be important (if unlikely to happen), the fact that the Democrats are not demanding DAILY press conferences to lambast this tax plan allows the short attention span audience of U.S. news viewers to totally forget that this horrible tax plan is wending its way through the Senate.
In case you’ve forgotten about what this bill contains, let’s do a quick review. Despite Lyin’ Paul Ryan lauding the bill for how it will give “middle class” voters a big tax break ($1200/year, $100/month, $25/week), the fact is:
The tax plan's primary beneficiaries would be wealthier Americans, who would enjoy lower tax rates despite the elimination of some breaks, a repeal of the so-called alternative minimum tax and the termination of the estate tax.
(Chicago Tribune November 2, 2017 Josh Boak)
Martin Sullivan, the chief economist at Tax Analysts and a former staff economist at the Treasury Department notes: "With the details they've presented to us so far, it looks like the tax cut benefits the wealthy and major corporations. In fact, if you have a large family, given the facts that we have now, you would pay more in taxes." (Chicago Tribune November 2, 2017 Josh Boak) If we look closely at the statistics, here’s what we find:
The report, which is the first detailed assessment of the plan’s financial impact, found that the average tax bill for all income groups would decline by $1,600, or 2.1 percent, in 2018. The biggest decrease would go to those with incomes above $730,000, who would see their after-tax incomes rise by an average of 8.5 percent, or about $129,000. Those in the middle quintile — with incomes averaging $66,960 — would see their after-tax income rise by 1.2 percent or about $660. Taxpayers in the bottom two income groups would see an increase in after-tax income of 0.4 to 0.9 percent, or $60 to $310 next year. The top 1 percent would benefit more, with an average increase in after-tax income of 2.5 percent — $37,440 for those making more than $732,800 and $178,560 for those making more than $3.4 million. (Chicago Tribune November 2, 2017 Josh Boak)
You do not have to be an accountant to understand those numbers. Clearly, the wealthy will benefit most from these tax cuts which, by the way, expire after five years ---- raising taxes from2022 on! Why aren’t the Democrats out there making sure voters across the country are aware of this monstrosity of a tax plan?
The Republicans are also trying to sell this bill as a boon to “small” business owners (since we know large corporations receive the biggest --- as well as permanent --- benefits). However, if we look closely:
The House Republicans’ tax overhaul bill calls for reducing the tax burden on people who own small businesses like Steve’s Bike Shop — not giving breaks to professional athletes like Stephen Curry, the N.B.A. All-Star. Those who are actively running a business that is structured as a pass-through — for instance, a limited liability company, an S corporation or a partnership — will not see as great a reduction in taxes and may even see an increase in certain states. In other words, the House bill may seem like a tax cut for small businesses, but it is not likely to bring much relief to many of those owners, and it is certainly not comparable to what was proposed for large corporations. And some professions, like consultants, lawyers, doctors and other professional services companies, are not even eligible for the lower pass-through rate.
(Paul Sullivan, NY Times, November 17, 2017)
So, despite what Lyin’ Ryan and Mitch McConnell keep trying to sell us, this bill is, quite clearly, a payoff to Republican Party Big Donors, period! One more added problem with the bill is its proposed cut of the Individual Mandate for the Affordable Care Act --- which will deny health insurance to 13 million people who need that coverage! Where are the Democrats?
Finally, the House tax bill has stealthily included language which could, down the line, be used as a legal wedge against a woman’s right to choose abortion. In provision 529, about establishing college savings accounts for the future, the language is as follows:
Nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section. The term "unborn child" means a child in utero. The term "child in utero" means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.
(Politifact, Tom Kertscher, November 22, 2017)
Some groups, NARAL-Pro-Choice America & the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, are already waging a war of words over this provision.
Meanwhile, it’s clear the provision is divisive. NARAL is among a number of groups that opposes it; meanwhile, anti abortion groups support the provision, with one, the Susan B. Anthony List, saying: "It's a small increment in the momentum that we're building to ensure that one day every child is welcomed and protected under the law." (Politifact, Tom Kertscher, November 22, 2017)
This is the first time ‘personhood’ language has made it into tax reform legislation, leaving the door open for future laws to use the same, ideological definition of when life begins. (Politifact, Tom Kertscher, November 22, 2017)
When Ryan was questioned about this provision, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office responded with this statement:
Today, our tax code doesn’t recognize children with eyes, ears, noses, arms, legs, fingers, and heartbeats as children just because they haven’t yet left the womb ….So our tax plan adds clear language that allows parents to start a college savings account before their son or daughter is born by explicitly and unambiguously declaring these sons and daughters "unborn children." (Politifact, Tom Kertscher, November 22, 2017)
At present, anyone can start a college savings account for an unborn child (that is, when a woman is pregnant) and there is no necessity for a law to imply when “life begins.” As Yale Law School Professor Mindy Roseman says: "It is part of the anti-abortion strategy to work on all fronts to establish fetal personhood/citizenship claims.” Once again, where are the Democrats?
It is crucial that this tax plan be attacked and defeated. Only 3 Republicans in the Senate need to oppose it and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says he is a “No” vote so far. The Democrats have failed to develop any clear message/platform other than being anti-Trump. They need to ramp up their efforts to fight this bill before we are all saddled with this gift to corporations and the 1%.