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House Republicans Push Through Their Tax Hike On Middle Class Families

Last night, straight down party lines, Republicans voted to give millionaires and billionaires a massive tax cut and to raise taxes on millions of hard working Americans.

“Today’s vote is a missed opportunity to deliver the tax reform we need for middle class families and small businesses,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “I strongly support reform that starts with the goal of providing tax relief for those in the economy who need it most. This bill is little more than a giveaway to big corporate interests and wealthy individuals while creating losers among many middle class families who will see their taxes increase in the coming years.”

“The tax bill that House Republicans passed today seeks to steal from the vast majority of Americans to benefit the very few. This is an attack on our economic security and on the fabric of our nation,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “House Republicans’ tax scam is loaded with provisions to help the wealthiest: it eliminates the estate tax, which will only be paid by an estimated 5,500 super-wealthy Americans this year, and slashes the corporate tax rate claimed by the biggest businesses. Meanwhile, it raises taxes on many middle-class families, and it sets small benefits for working families to expire in five years – while making cuts for corporations permanent. And make no mistake about it: these cuts will take money away from needed national security investments at this dangerous moment in time.”

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, confirmed Shea-Porter’s claim by stating, “12 percent of taxpayers would pay more in 2019 and 13 percent would pay more in 2027.” These increases unfairly hit middle class families.

This tax increase to the middle class comes primarily from the loss of “itemized deductions” that allow taxpayers to deduct things like mortgage interest, state and local taxes, student loan interest, qualifying work related expenses, and medical expenses.

“One reason for the variation across states is that taxpayers who live in places with higher state and local taxes may be more heavily impacted because those taxes would no longer be deductible on federal tax returns,” ITEP added.

“The bill the House approved today hurts older Americans now and in the future,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Eliminating the medical expense deduction means it will be harder for families with high medical expenses, most of whom are seniors, to make ends meet. The House Republican tax bill axes deductions that help working people so it can give more to the wealthiest.”

“The wealthy and corporations do not need these tax breaks. The vast majority of Americans understand that trickle-down economics does not work, and they disapprove of this plan. Retirees and working Americans know who this plan helps and who it hurts. And they will remember this when they vote in 2018,” Fiesta concluded.

Shea-Porter added, “This bill eliminates the deduction for high medical expenses claimed by over 40,000 Granite Staters and the student loan interest deduction that helps people saddled with student debt. It even takes away the modest $250 above-the-line deduction I fought to make permanent for almost 20,000 New Hampshire teachers – while keeping the golf course tax loophole. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the plan would explode the deficit by $1.7 trillion, triggering automatic cuts to Medicare. We all know our tax code desperately needs reform – but those reforms need to help the working people who are already losing out under our tax code, not give even more to the wealthiest 1% and the biggest corporations.”

The AFL-CIO says the bill is a “job killer” and rewards corporations for offshoring American jobs. Under the House proposal “U.S. tax rate on offshore profits from 35% to 0%,” creating a subsidy for outsourcing jobs that would cost taxpayers “$208 billion over 10 years.”

In their letter of opposition to the proposed tax plan, William Samuel, Director

Government Affairs Department at the AFL-CIO, called the proposal the “poster child for the failed ‘trickle-down’ economic theory that has never worked and has repeatedly stuck working people with the tab for tax giveaways for millionaires, big corporations, and Wall Street.”

Republicans are trying to pull the wool over our eyes in this massive tax scam. The plan would slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% and repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax on “pass-through” businesses. A couple of examples of a “pass through” business are “small businesses” like hedge funds, law firms, realty investment companies, and some large corporations like Bechtel construction (the 9th largest single owned business in the US). Without the Alternative Minimum Tax these “pass through” businesses would not be required to pay any federal taxes at all.

NBC News is reporting “Trump and his heirs potentially could save more than $1 billion overall under the GOP tax proposal that the House of Representatives passed Thursday,” though he continues to say that the plan will not benefit him.

The progressive coalition, Not One Penny, supports tax reforms but not one penny in reductions to “millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.”

“The tax bill that passed the House today is an affront to the people that our leaders in Washington claim to represent. The GOP voted to cut taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations, inevitably forcing cuts to programs working families depend on like Medicaid, Medicare, public education, and Social Security. While passing the largest middle-class tax hike in a generation, the GOP said ‘no thanks’ to helping working families this Thanksgiving,” said Not One Penny spokesman Tim Hogan. “The tax proposal that passed today is wildly unpopular with a majority of Americans, and voters won’t forget those who enabled this hypocrisy. Republicans’ vote today is one that will haunt them in the weeks and months ahead.”

Over the last month, in mobilizing against Republicans’ disastrous tax plan, the Not One Penny coalition has coordinated more than a hundred events and actions across the country to hold congressional Republicans accountable for pushing tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of working families.

Advocates and activists continue to mobilize in opposition to Republicans’ tax scam. From hundreds gathering together at rallies alongside Leaders Pelosi and Schumer, Members of Congress, and progressive allies on November 1 and November 15, to local grassroots activity across the country, Americans will continue to resist this toxic tax plan.

“Progressive groups have come together to prevent Republicans from rigging the system even further for the wealthy and well-connected, and we will not quit until this taxpayer-funded giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations is stopped dead in its tracks. After months of activity, we continue to mobilize thousands of activists to stop Republicans attempts to raise taxes on middle-class families. Congressional Republicans should take note: we will hold you accountable for every vote you take that threatens the health and financial security of your constituents,” Hogan added.

“This bill has always been about giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, paid for by the rest of us — and our groups have been fired up about that from the beginning,” said Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director of Indivisible, a member of the Not One Penny coalition. “Even before this tax fight became a health care fight, we had over 100 events in every corner of this country to oppose the Trump Tax Scam. Now that Republicans have explicitly included ACA repeal, our groups are even more energized than before.”

The bill now moves to the Senate where it is sure to face stiff opposition, especially after the news that Senator McConnell added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to their tax plan.

Should-be Republican supporters are beginning to defect from the GOP tax plan because of the disastrous impact it would have on the American economy and the harm it would have on millions of middle-class families. Opposition to the plan includes:

  • Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who said the plan benefits corporations over small businesses, and he finds the process being used to rush the bill “offensive.”
  • Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said, “I remain concerned over how the current tax reform proposals will grow the already staggering national debt by opting for short-term fixes while ignoring long-term problems for taxpayers and the economy.”
  • MaineSenator Susan Collins said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea from either a political or policy perspective.” Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said, “If I believe it’s going to add to the deficit, I’m not going to vote for it.”
  • Oklahoma Senator James Lankfordsaid, “It’s one thing to be able to cut taxes. It’s another thing to say how are we going to deal with our debt and deficit.”
  • Texas Senator Ted Cruzsaid, “Right now, they don’t have my vote.”

Make sure to let your Senators know how you feel about this new proposal. The Senate Democrats are unanimous against the bill but in order to ensure this bill never reaches the President’s desk we need to get at least three Republicans to vote it down.

“We need bipartisan tax reform that simplifies our tax code to help small businesses and delivers meaningful relief to middle-class families. Sadly, the tax bill approved last night is a partisan effort that doesn’t meet any of those goals,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bill would add over one and a half trillion dollars to our national debt and hurt Granite State students, seniors and working families, all to provide tax cuts to the very wealthy and large corporations. I stand ready to work with Republicans and Democrats to reform our tax code, but we need a bill that’s fiscally responsible, helps grow our economy and prioritizes the middle class.”

House GOP Tax Plan Hurts Working Families

Today, the House Republicans released their new tax plan that would lower taxes for the ultra-wealthy and add trillions to the national debt. The plan would also drastically reduce the corporate tax rate while continuing to reward companies for offshoring American jobs.

“This tax bill is a job killer. It gives hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and profits,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “No matter how it’s spun by Republican politicians, their tax bill is nothing but giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and millionaires, paid for on the backs of working families.”

“It’s shameless to propose cutting Medicaid, Medicare, education and infrastructure to pay for tax breaks for the 1%. History tells us, commonsense tells us and careful analysis of this tax bill tells us that these tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will never trickle down to the rest of us. Real tax reform actually can put money back in the pockets of working people, but this is not that kind of plan,” Trumka added.

“The Republican tax plan is a handout to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations that will raise taxes on working families and give corporations new incentives to send more U.S. jobs overseas,” stated Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). “Republicans and White House staff have been working overtime to spin this deal as a ‘middle class tax cut.’ It’s not.”

Shelton explained just a few of the ways the new tax proposal will hurt CWA members and working families across the nation.

  • It limits the ability to deduct property taxes and completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local taxes.
  • It gets rid of tax deductions that help families pay education expenses. It will tax directly the value of employer-provided education assistance that at least 10,000 CWA members use.
  • It restricts the amount of home mortgage interest that can be deducted, hurting CWA members and working people especially in areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and other states with high housing costs.
  • It wipes out the ability of families to deduct their medical expenses.
  • Any employer-provided child care benefit will be taxed, and assistance from employers to help CWA families adopt a child also will be taxed.

“We cannot allow tax cuts for the wealthy to harm millions of working families. CWA and our allies are fighting back against this massive transfer of dollars from working families to the richest 1 percent,” added Shelton.

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also spoke out against the new tax plan.

“The tax plan unveiled by House leadership would mostly benefit those who need the help the least: wealthy individuals and large corporations. While the plan would lower the tax rate for many middle-income families, most would end up having more of their income taxed. And the plan would actually raise taxes on our poorest citizens.”

“Too many American workers have been suffering from stagnant wages, rising costs for health care and other essentials, and an economic system that favors the millionaires and billionaires. This plan does nothing to help them,” he concluded.

The new plan angered the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national advocacy group for seniors.

“This is the latest cruel scheme. The tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are so massive that they plan to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years to pay for them – but they will still add $1.5 trillion to the deficit,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Exacerbating the problems they are creating, the House and the Trump Administration would no longer allow Americans, including retirees, to deduct their medical expenses, including nursing home costs or out of pocket medical or dental expenses from their taxes.”

Even some on the right oppose this new tax proposal. The Concord Coalition, a self proclaimed “non-partisan, grassroots organization,” heavily funded by former Sec. of Commerce Peter G Peterson, spoke out against this new proposal calling it “fiscally irresponsible.”

“True tax reform should aim to grow the economy without growing the debt ” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “This plan would move U.S. fiscal policy in a dangerous direction, openly inviting higher deficits in the face of unsustainable debt.”

The federal debt recently passed the $20 trillion mark, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law the government is on track to add more than $10 trillion to that in the next 10 years. This version of the tax plan will add at least another $1.5 trillion onto that projection.

“It is important that any changes made to this draft to accommodate interest group concerns and increase potential support be paid for by reducing tax cuts rather than increasing the number of budget gimmicks,” Bixby added.

Working people across the country should not be made to suffer to give the top 1% more tax breaks.

Former Sec. of Labor and respected economist Robert Reich said, “The proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.”

Reich calls this tax plan a “Trojan Horse” in this short video released today.

“Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut,” Reich added.

Working people have suffered through decades of stagnant wages, budget cuts to programs that help them and provide healthcare when they get old.  Enough is enough. We must stop this massive giveaway to the wealthy 1%.

3 NH Counties See Child Poverty Grow To Over 20%

New Data Finds Regional Disparities in Median Household Income, Child Poverty Rates Exceed 20 Percent in Three New Hampshire Counties

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau measuring median household income and poverty rates for the state’s ten counties and municipalities with more than 20,000 residents finds regional income disparities across the state. These new data point estimates for 2016 show median household incomes remaining highest in the more urban counties, while the state’s rural regions continue to experience lower household incomes and higher child poverty rates.

“While New Hampshire has the lowest overall poverty rate among states, this new data shows troubling trends in certain regions of the state,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Child poverty rates of above 20 percent in Belknap, Carroll and Coos counties make clear that there is much work to be done to ensure economic stability for New Hampshire’s children and their families.”

On a county level, Granite Staters see widely different median household incomes from statewide median of $70,936. The state’s two most populous counties, Hillsborough and Rockingham, help boost the statewide median income, but the least populous county, Coos, has a substantially lower estimate of $47,092. The state’s other predominantly rural counties — Sullivan, Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap — have estimated median household incomes lower than the cluster of more urban counties — Strafford, Merrimack, Hillsborough, and Rockingham.

New Hampshire boasts the lowest statewide poverty rate in the country, at 7.3 percent. Despite these low statewide numbers, the percentage of people living in poverty varies widely by county. The four northernmost counties in the state all have estimated poverty rates of 11 percent or higher, while Rockingham County’s overall poverty rate is 3.6 percent. Manchester had a poverty rate of 14.1 percent, and Nashua’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

Relative to the 2015 estimates, Coos and Strafford counties saw statistically significant decreases in their poverty rates, while Belknap County had a statistically significant increase. Belknap County was the only county to have a statistically significant increase in child poverty, while it dropped in Cheshire, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan counties.

NHFPI’s analysis of the October 19 Census Bureau data release is available here.


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Walmart Buys Back $20 Billion In Company Stock Instead Of Raising Wages

Walmart announced a $20 Billion stock buyback yesterday.

From Business Insider: Walmart is using the oldest trick in the book to boost its stock price

$20 Billion is a whole lot of money.

  • It’s equal to almost $8,700 per full-time Walmart employee.[i]
  • It’s more than three times what taxpayers spend each year on health care, food stamps and other forms of public assistance for Walmart employees.[ii]
  • It’s 50% more than Walmart’s total profits last year.[iii]
  • It’s equal to about half of the company’s total long-term debt.[iv]

And Walmart directors have decided to spend all that money buying back shares of their own corporation’s stock.  Which doesn’t really do anything other than condense corporate ownership.

2005 photo of the Rev. Billy Talen leading the “Stop Shopping Choir”
by J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald Creative Commons license via Flickr

So rather than paying better wages to employees, or allowing more employees access to the company’s health insurance, or hiring more employees, or even just paying off corporate debt… Walmart directors want to spend $20 billion on reducing the number of shares of stock.

It’s all a question of priorities.  And condensing corporate ownership has been one of Walmart’s priorities for at least a decade.  Walmart has “repurchased” almost 30% of its shares since 2005.[v]

While taxpayers have been paying billions of dollars each year in public assistance to Walmart employees.

While Walmart employees have had to ask for public assistance, just to make ends meet for their families.

As the “Fight for Fifteen” movement[vi] continues, it’s worth asking:

If Walmart can afford $20 billion for more stock buybacks, why isn’t it already paying better wages to employees?

————

[i] https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/profile?p=WMT
[ii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart-workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance/
[iii] “net income” https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/financials?p=WMT
[iv] https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/balance-sheet?p=WMT
[v] http://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/WMT/shares-outstanding/wal-mart-stores-shares-outstanding-history
[vi] http://fortune.com/2016/06/11/walmart-minimum-wage-study/

Granite Staters Speak Out Against Cuts To Medicare And Medicaid

Granite Staters Call for No Cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to Pay for Tax Breaks for the Rich and Corporations at Manchester, NH Community Forum

National Day of Action Calls on Congress to Protect Health Care for Millions in the Budget and Reject Massive Tax Breaks for Wealthiest Americans

Manchester, NH – After Congress spent weeks once again attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, over thirty Granite Staters attended a community forum co-organized by Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) and Rights & Democracy (RAD) on Wednesday, October 4 to educate the public on the Congressional  budget proposal. New Hampshire seniors, working people, Representative Robert Backus, and voices from the front lines of healthcare including doctors gathered to discuss what’s at stake under budget plans. These Granite Staters joined hundreds of others across the country at similar events for this national day of action led by Health Care for America Now (HCAN). On this day of action, grassroots groups across the country mobilized against the latest effort to strip health care from millions of Americans while at the same time advancing a tax cut proposal that benefits primarily the richest 1% of households.

The event highlighted the devastating impacts of the House  Budget Resolution, which cuts $1.5 trillion from health care, especially Medicaid while giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations. The resolution includes the adoption of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal proposal that the House passed in May that could take healthcare away from over 23 million people and make permanent cuts to Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and veterans.  House Speaker Paul Ryan plans a vote on the House budget proposal this week.

“We’ve seen time and again that Congress will stop at nothing to strip millions of Americans of vital care, and now they are using the budget process to make the same kind of devastating cuts to health care that were so unpopular in the last few repeal bills,” said Viola Katusiime, an Organizer for GSOP. “Americans across the country rose up to beat back repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we will remain vigilant as Congress tries to gut essential health care programs to pay for tax breaks for the 1 percent.”

The proposed budget cuts would fundamentally transform Medicaid for the worse, ending its guarantee of coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities including 171,500 New Hampshire Medicaid recipients. These cuts would also be a devastating blow to New Hampshire’s state budget and cripple its ability to face public health emergencies like the opioid crisis, which is ravaging communities across the Granite State (since under the administration plans it will be up to each state alone to manage health care emergencies without additional support from the federal government).

Medicare serves over 55 million people ages 65 and over and people with permanent disabilities, including 266,210 people in New Hampshire. But the Medicare cuts of $487 billion over 10 years and efforts to privatize Medicare through vouchers in the budget resolution would devastate this program and leave seniors and people with permanent disabilities without an affordable option for care.

At the same time, the federal budget proposal includes trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Under the administration’s proposed tax plan, wealthy households’ income tax rate will be reduced by almost 5 percent, and the corporate tax rate will drop by 15 percent, among a variety of other tax breaks. These tax cuts in total will cost $1.5 trillion – the same amount as the health care cuts in the House budget resolution, including significant Medicaid cuts and $500 billion in new cuts to Medicare, a vital program for seniors.

While Senator Jeanne Shaheen regrettably could not attend the event she voiced her solidarity with the Granite Staters in attendance in a letter she sent to them:

“I share your commitment to supporting the individuals who rely on the quality, consistent access to health care services that Medicare and Medicaid offer. We must continue to invest in them and resist reckless attempts to cut these programs by prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy. Please be assured that, in reviewing any new tax proposals, I will be looking to see how the plan will impact middle-class families and small businesses across the state of New Hampshire.”

To learn more about how Granite Staters are fighting this unjust and immoral budget, please contact Viola Katusiime with Granite State Organizing Project at violakat@granitestateorganizing.org or Kathy Staub with Rights & Democracy at kathy@radnh.org.

Leo W Gerard: Unfair Trade, Uncertainty Killing American Aluminum and Steel

Kameen Thompson, president of the USW local union at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken mill

Kameen Thompson started his workday Sept. 15 thinking that his employer, ArcelorMittal in Conshohocken, Pa., the largest supplier of armored plate to the U.S. military, might hire some workers to reduce a recent spate of overtime.

Just hours later, though, he discovered the absolute opposite was true.

ArcelorMittal announced that, within a year, it would idle the mill that stretches half a mile along the Schuylkill River. Company officials broke the bad news to Kameen, president of the United Steelworkers (USW) local union at Conshohocken, and Ron Davis, the grievance chair, at a meeting where the two union officers had hoped to hear about hiring.

ArcelorMittal wouldn’t say when it would begin the layoffs or how many workers would lose their jobs or which mill departments would go dark. The worst part for everyone now is the uncertainty, Kameen told me last week.

“If ArcelorMittal said they would shut down on a date certain, everybody could move on to something else or prepare. Right now, we are in limbo. We have a lot of guys with a lot of time, but they’re still not old enough to retire. The only thing we can do is ride it out. But the uncertainty is very, very hard on them. It’s difficult not knowing who and what departments are affected and how long we are going to run,” Kameen said.

Uncertainty from Washington, D.C., is a major contributor to the idling of the plant. ArcelorMittal and every other aluminum and steel producer in America are in limbo as they wait for a decision on import restrictions that could preserve U.S. capacity to produce defense materials – like the light armored plate that’s Conshohocken’s specialty ­– and to build and repair crucial infrastructure, like roads, bridges and utilities.

Initially, the Trump administration promised a determination in June. But June came and went. As the months dragged on, imports surged. That threatens the viability of mills like Conshohocken. Then, just last week, administration officials said they would do nothing until after Congress passes tax legislation.That compounded uncertainty.

The Conshohocken mill may not survive the delay. Kameen, Ron and the 203 other workers there could lose their jobs because Congress dawdles or fails to act on taxes. America could lose its domestic capacity to quickly produce large quantities of high-quality light-gauge plate for armor.

After work at other, non-union jobs, Kameen began at Conshohocken at the age of 25. He finally had a position that provided good wages and benefits. “That gave me an opportunity to plan for a future and build a family,” he explained.

Ron, the mill’s training coordinator, is 45 and has worked at the plant for 22 years. “This was my first true job that I could sustain a family with,” Ron told me.

He has five children ranging in age from five to 26. He needs a good job with good benefits. He knows jobs like the one he has at the mill are rare, but he’s not giving in to gloominess. “I am just trying to stay positive,” he said. “That is all I can do right now.”

Photo is of Ron Davis, grievance chair for the USW local union at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken mill

Both Ron and Kameen are frustrated by the Trump administration’s failure to penalize the foreign producers whose illegal trade practices have killed steel and aluminum jobs, closed mills across the country and threatened America’s domestic capability to produce metals essential to construction of critical infrastructure and vital to the defense department to safeguard the country.

Since the Trump administration launched the national security probes into steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act in April, imports have risen significantly. Steel imports are up 21 percent over last year. Countries like China, fearing impending penalties for predatory and illegal trade practices, dumped more than ever.

The administration has nine months to complete the Section 232 investigation. It could be January before the results are announced. Then the president has another three months to decide what to do. Instead of the two months the administration initially promised, the whole process could take a year.

A year could be too long for mills like Conshohocken.

“It doesn’t take that long to investigate this,” Kameen said. “We are losing jobs. They are dropping like flies. The administration needs to act now to prevent these unfair imports from killing more American jobs.”

Because of unfair and illegal imports since 2000, particularly from China, U.S. steel mills idled sections or closed, cutting the nation’s capacity to produce by 17 million tons a year and throwing 48,000 steelworkers out of jobs.

Now, there is only one surviving U.S. mill capable of producing grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES)required for electrical transmission.

The same decline occurred in aluminum, only it happened even faster. The number of U.S. smelters dropped from 14 in 2011 to five last year. That is the loss of thousands more good, family-supporting jobs. It happened because China expanded its overcapacity to produce cheap, state-subsidized aluminum, depressing the global price by 46 percent in just eight years.

Now, there is only one surviving U.S. smelter capable of producing the high-purity aluminum essential to fighter jets like the F-35 and other military vehicles.

While ArcelorMittal may contend that it can manufacture military-grade steel plate at its other U.S. mills, the loss of Conshohocken would mean a dangerous decline in U.S. capacity.

Capacity is crucial in emergencies. An example occurred in 2007 when U.S. military deaths were rising in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered a 15-fold increase in production of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles. That meant the number produced each month had to rise from 82 to more than 1,100. The Conshohocken plant produced much of the steel needed to achieve the goal.

Without that mill, the nation’s ability to gear up in such an emergency is compromised.  Two weeks ago, 10 retired generals wrote President Trump warning: “America’s increasing reliance on imported steel and aluminum from potentially hostile or uncooperative foreign governments, or via uncertain supply routes, jeopardizes our national security.”

They also said of the Section 232 investigation, “Prompt action is necessary before it is too late.”

When Kameen started at the mill 11 years ago, he felt good about the work. Conshohocken was making a lot of armor for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that gave him the sense that he was doing something for his country.

Now, he’s concerned for his local union members, whose average age is 50.

As their president, Kameen, who is only 37, feels responsible to help each of them through the uncertainty and the difficulties ahead. “My members are looking at me for answers and leadership,” he told me. “So if I don’t stay strong and lead, then I’m the wrong man for the job.”

Every steelworker and aluminum worker in America is looking to President Trump for that kind of leadership. Their uncertainty could be relieved if the administration would announce the results of the Section 232 investigation now and act immediately to ensure the United States has the domestic ability to produce essential metals.

Trump Proposes $5 Trillion In Unfunded Tax Cuts

President Donald Trump delivers the Address to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol. This is the President’s first Address to Congress of his presidency. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

As if our tax system was not already rigged to benefit the top 1%, here comes President Trump to take more money from working families and give it straight to the people at the top.

Trump unveiled his “new” tax reform bill that is nothing new. It is the same failed trickle down tax policy that has hurt working families for more than 30 years. This new tax plan is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called the new tax plan a “con game against working people.”

“The tax plan Republicans put out today is nothing but a con game, and working people are the ones they’re trying to con. Here we go again. First comes the promise that tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will trickle down to the rest of us. Then comes the promise that tax cuts will pay for themselves. Then comes the promise that they want to stop offshoring. And finally, we find out none of these things is true, and the people responsible for wasting trillions of dollars on tax giveaways to the rich tell us we have no choice but to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, education and infrastructure. There always seems to be plenty of money for millionaires and big corporations, but never enough money to do anything for working people.”

The Americans for Tax Fairness estimates that Trump’s tax plan would rip a $5 trillion dollar hole in our federal budget and would drastically increase our national debt.

“The resulting jump in the deficit threatens funding of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education and other vital services,” Americans for Tax Fairness wrote.

“This tax plan will be a slow-motion disaster that hurts our country for years to come,” said Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME. “It is deeply irresponsible to let even a penny more in tax cuts go to the wealthy and corporations, while working people are barely keeping their heads above water, our roads and bridges are crumbling, our children face steep inequalities, and our seniors struggle to retire with dignity.”

“Our nation faces challenges that are not shared equally. The super-wealthy and corporations can and must shoulder their fair share of the burden. The plan announced today will further rig the system against working families and our communities by strip-mining the public services we all rely on. We cannot continue to put the interests of the rich and powerful before the interests of our country,” added Saunders.

“Everyone complains about taxes, but most of us want a tax code that is fair. Donald Trump’s tax proposal just makes it worse,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

The plan would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven down to three and slash the corporate tax rate in half. These cuts would only benefit large corporations, hedge fund managers, millionaires and billionaires like Donald Trump. 40% of the proposed tax cuts would go directly to the top 1% of Americans.

“The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along,” said Frank Clemente, executive director, Americans for Tax Fairness. “This isn’t ‘tax reform,’ it’s just a big giveaway to millionaires and corporations, and it won’t ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us. It won’t help small businesses, but it will help Wall Street hedge fund managers and real estate moguls like Donald Trump. This plan will not lead to robust job creation or economic growth, but its eye-popping cost will lead to deep cuts in Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and public education that will leave working families in the cold.”

(The Americans for Tax Fairness have a full rundown of the proposed tax cuts and tax increases resulting in a nearly $5 trillion dollar deficit.)

Progressive groups are already pushing back against the Republican agenda to cut taxes on the wealthy at the expense of working people. Not One Penny, a coalition of progressive groups including MoveOn, Indivisible, and the Working Families Party created a petition opposing these tax cuts.

The petition states:

“I pledge to oppose any effort to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected. Not one penny in tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.”

All across America, working people are still struggling to pay their bills and have given up on the idea of saving for the future. We do need real tax reform, not handouts to the wealthiest among us. We need to close the loopholes that allow corporations to pay nothing in taxes while small businesses are paying upwards of 30%. We need a tax plan that puts money back in the hands of working families who need it not millionaires and billionaires who are already failing to pay their fair share.

“The president’s plan seems tailor-made to benefit himself and his businesses, but we don’t know because he hasn’t released his taxes. Trumpcare was defeated because millions of Americans rose up to stop attacks on the most vulnerable. Unless the president is prepared to work with Democrats and sensible Republicans on real tax reform that improves working people’s lives and ends handouts for the wealthy and corporations, today’s Trumptax plan will either catastrophically hurt working families or, hopefully, suffer the same fate as Trumpcare,” added Weingarten.

If You’re Surprised By America’s Wage Stagnation, Then You’re Not Paying Attention

By Larry Willis, President of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the economy and how well it’s doing. The unemployment rate has steadily fallen for years now, and jobs are being created.

But wages? Not so much.

The latest jobs report shows that while the unemployment rate remains low, wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. Instead, they are falling flat.

Some economists and policymakers seem baffled — but TTD and our affiliated unions aren’t.

Yes, there are a number of reasons for this trend. But, as we reflect ahead of Labor Day, it is clear that anti-union policies, like so-called “right to work” laws, and failure to invest in our crumbling infrastructure are contributing factors that need to be called out and addressed.

Unions act as a check against corporate power, making union representation one of the most reliable ways for working people to improve their quality of life and secure a living wage. In fact, data shows a direct correlation between high union density and higher wages and better benefits. And while union members are more likely to have a pension, employer-paid health insurance, and earn an average of 13.2 percent more than their non-union counterparts, the union difference doesn’t just affect those covered by collective bargaining agreements. Strong union contracts influence competition, driving up wages, benefits, and standards of living for non-union workers too.

So what happens when working people don’t have access to unions? Take a look around – we’re seeing it right now. While millions of Americans struggle just to get by, the average CEO makes nearly $14 million annually – 200 times what an average employee earns. This is not a coincidence. It is the result of ruthless, decades-long attacks on the rights of working people to demand better for themselves and their families.

As for all those jobs being created, it is time we ask ourselves what kind of jobs they are. Based on an analysis from MIT’s living wage calculator, it takes a typical family of four (two adults, two children) more than $58,000 annually to have their basic needs met. A minimum-wage, non-union job just won’t cut it.

This country needs more good jobs — the kind that allow people to own a car, buy a house, and put their kids through college. Attacks on the rights of working people to negotiate together for better wages and benefits are not the only reasons these jobs are lacking. Failure by political leaders to invest in our nation’s transportation system hasn’t just left us with infrastructure that’s crumbling and dangerous — this inaction has also resulted in missed opportunities to create as many as 900,000 long-term, good paying jobs, annually.

Thanks to high union density in transportation and infrastructure industries, people working in these sectors — including frontline workers who build, operate, and maintain our transportation system — earn higher pay, better benefits, and more job security than their low-wage counterparts. In fact, at $38,480, the median annual wage paid by occupations in infrastructure is nearly $4,000 higher than the national median wage.

When Congress considers transportation and infrastructure spending, TTD and our affiliated unions will fight for policies that ensure these investments will continue to create the type of jobs we know our country needs. We cannot support an infrastructure plan that threatens long-standing labor standards or undermines the collective bargaining rights of working people.

There are ways to turn things around and make our economy work for everyone. But doing so requires taking a stand against the rich and powerful — something working people cannot do alone. America needs a commitment from political leaders on both sides of the aisle, not only to invest boldly in infrastructure, but to end attacks on the rights of working families, and understand that strong unions aren’t part of the problem — they are part of the solution.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Win First Anti-Trust Case Against Big Banks

 Ruling advances case alleging world’s largest investment banks conspired to maintain anti-competitive stranglehold over $275-trillion market.

Case brought forward by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund

NEW YORK  — In a critical victory for investors and traders across the country, a federal judge ruled today to uphold a majority of claims in a class action lawsuit against many of the world’s largest financial institutions for allegedly conspiring to engineer and maintain a collusive and anti-competitive stranglehold over the market for interest rate swaps (IRS) in violation of federal antitrust laws. In a decision issued by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, the court ruled that 11 “Dealer Defendant” banks, including Bank of America J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, must face claims brought forth in litigation led by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, which seeks an injunction against the banks’ anticompetitive arrangement and compensatory damages.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision and look forward to vigorously pursuing justice for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and other investors harmed by this conspiracy by the world’s biggest banks,” said Michael Eisenkraft, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which is co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action.

 “For far too long, the world’s banking giants have shut investors out of electronic trading, and today’s ruling is a critical victory in leveling the playing field,” said Carol Gilden, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll also representing the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and working on the case. “Interest rate swaps represent a multi-trillion-dollar market that traders across the world depend upon, and we will fight to ensure investors have access to the transparency, competitive pricing, and faster execution denied to them by the Defendant Banks.”

Interest rate swaps, which are regularly used by a broad spectrum of investors, including pension funds, university endowment funds, hedge funds, and municipalities, allow an entity to swap its fixed interest-rate payments for the floating interest-rate payments of a benchmark, or vice-versa.  Given their daily use across the financial industry, interest rates swaps are a critical, multi-trillion dollar market which investors depend upon.

According to the lawsuit filed in November 2015 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, interest rate swaps have been standardized and ripe for exchange trading for years. Exchange trading brings transparent and competitive pricing and faster execution to a market, thus bringing significant benefits to investors.

As alleged in the complaint, the market for interest rate swaps has been economically ready for standardized exchange trading, but investors remain stuck trading IRS in an inefficient and antiquated market dominated by the Dealer Defendants. The lawsuit alleges that by blocking the entry of exchanges into the IRS market, the banks force investors to trade with them in an opaque and inefficient over-the-counter market, allowing the Dealer Defendants to extract billions of dollars in higher fees and costs. According to the lawsuit, the Dealer Defendants maintained this profit center by conspiring to squash potential market entrants that threatened to bring competition and transparency to the buy-side in the IRS market. As detailed in the complaint, the Dealer Defendants have jointly threatened, boycotted, coerced, and otherwise eliminated any entity or practice that had the potential to bring exchange trading to investors in the IRS market.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

NH Congressional Delegation Adamantly Opposes Trump’s Budget Proposal

Today, #45 released his disastrous budget proposal.  The budget slashes major departments and includes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Education, Student Loan programs, repeals the ACA, and guts worker health & safety programs.

Even though, Candidate Trump promised not to make any cuts to Social Security and Medicare, it turns out he was lying.

After all the cuts, #45 proposes more tax cuts to the ultra wealth, like himself, and to multinational corporations who are hiding trillions of dollars overseas already.

“According to Mulvaney, the proposal looks ‘at the budget through the eyes of the taxpayer’ instead of those who receive benefits from federal programs.” (RawStory)

“If I can look you in the eye and say I’m going to take this money from you so I can help this injured vet, I can do that in good conscience,” Mulvaney continued. “I am a lot less comfortable to the point of not wanting to look you in the eye and say, ‘Look, I need to take this money from you to give to this person over here who really isn’t disabled but is getting a disabled benefit or this person over here who is supposed to use the money to go to school but isn’t actually going.” (RawStory)

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in their opposition to these cuts.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“The President’s budget is even worse for New Hampshire than initially feared,” said Shaheen. “This budget would be detrimental to the health and well-being of Granite Staters. Among its many reckless provisions this proposal would throw millions of Americans off of Medicaid, a key program in our fight against the opioid epidemic and in making sure our children and seniors have the care they need. It also cuts funding for other mental health and substance misuse treatment programs. All in all, this budget completely ignores the urgency of the opioid crisis and would pull the rug out from under New Hampshire’s efforts to combat it.

“This budget also continues the Trump administration’s campaign to roll back women’s rights by defunding Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing vital preventive healthcare for nearly 12,000 women in New Hampshire. In a further assault on New Hampshire families, the budget cuts the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Similarly, it’s dumbfounding that this budget eliminates low income heating assistance for thousands of New Hampshire families and seniors, and economic development for the North Country.

“Fortunately, there’s bipartisan agreement that this mindless proposal should be rejected by Congress. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to working across the aisle on bipartisan government funding legislation that will responsibly fund key programs that many Granite Staters depend on. The budget is a reflection of an administration’s priorities, and what is clear from this budget is that the Trump administration prioritizes tax cuts for the wealthy over New Hampshire children, seniors, and families.”

Senator Maggie Hassan

“President Trump’s budget proposal would directly undermine our economy and the ability of New Hampshire families to get ahead and stay ahead. This irresponsible proposal would jeopardize critical economic priorities and hurt job-creating businesses in order to pay for tax cuts for corporate special interests and an expensive and ineffective border wall. I am particularly disturbed to see cuts to programs that are essential to our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis. The drastic cuts to the Medicaid program in this proposal go above and beyond even the devastating cuts included in the Trumpcare bill, further hurting people struggling with substance use disorder, students who experience disabilities, and older Americans in nursing homes. President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Department of Education would also undermine our public education system and hurt efforts to develop the workforce our businesses need to thrive and grow. I will strongly fight this budget proposal and urge my colleagues to work across the aisle on a budget that strengthens our economy, invests in our businesses, and supports New Hampshire families.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

“A budget is a moral document, and this immoral budget does not reflect the values we share as Americans. The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal would hurt students, working Americans, seniors, and our most vulnerable citizens by slashing health care, nutrition assistance, medical and scientific research, education, and other programs. President Trump’s budget reveals his true priorities: giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations.

“Today’s budget abandons the bipartisan progress we made earlier this month, when I voted for and the President signed an omnibus spending bill. As Congress works through the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process, I will fight against reckless and irresponsible cuts that target working families and our most vulnerable citizens; against the President’s proposal to balance the budget on the backs of working Americans and our seniors while giving the wealthiest even bigger tax cuts; against a new BRAC round; and for the priorities that were reflected in this year’s bipartisan omnibus bill.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02)

“The budget proposal released today by President Trump confirms many of our worst fears about the priorities of his administration,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This budget is cruel, shortsighted, and would be a disaster for efforts to strengthen the middle class. It would hurt hard working families and communities throughout New Hampshire and the country. From public education and student loans to economic development programs like Community Development Block Grants and the Northern Border Regional Commission, this budget would decimate programs for those who can least afford it. It would jeopardize clean air and water and our response to the opioid epidemic, all so that President Trump and his millionaire and billionaire friends can receive a massive tax giveaway. I’ll do everything in my power to fight the harmful elements of this budget and protect programs for Granite State veterans, seniors, and families.”

As if the above cuts were not enough already here are more details on the draconian cuts that Trump is proposing.

  • A $610 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years, which combined with House-passed American Health Care Act cuts would slice total Medicaid funding almost in half by 2027. About 65 percent of nursing home residents are supported primarily by Medicaid;
  • A $5.8 billion cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • A $7 billion cut to National Institutes of Health (NIH), which provided $98.9 million in critical medical research funding in New Hampshire for Fiscal Year 2016, supporting approximately 1,300 jobs;
  • A 10.7% cut to the National Science Foundation, which provided 125 awards totaling approximately $42 million to New Hampshire institutions in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • A 31.4% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including cutting critical climate science research;
  • Authorization for a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC);
  • A 29% cut to State Department funding, crippling our nation’s ability to exert soft power and respond to humanitarian crises worldwide;
  • A $193 billion cut over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helped 93,302 Granite Staters afford food as of February 2017;
  • $72.5 billion cut from programs that support people with disabilities, including Social Security disability insurance;
  • Elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a critical fuel assistance program for low-income households in New Hampshire;
  • A $143 billion cut over 10 years to student loan, financial aid and repayment programs that facilitate access to higher education;
  • A reversal of a proposed 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). After reports indicated that the President’s budget would include severe ONDCP funding cuts, which the NH delegation has already opposed.

This immoral budget must not pass.  We need to stop trying to balance our national budget on the backs of working people and specifically by taking from those who need it the most.  We must stop this tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and corporations who already fail to pay their fair share of tax and hide profits overseas to avoid being taxed at all.

The government should be working together to help all of the people, not a select few of ultra wealth, (most likely Trump) campaign donors.

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