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Disability Advocates Speak Out Against The GOP Tax Scam

Granite Staters return to New Hampshire and tell their stories after risking arrest in Washington D.C. protesting the GOP Tax Bill 

A delegation of Granite State disability rights and health care advocates who traveled to Washington, DC this week to protest the damaging Senate bill that guts Medicaid and Medicare for working families to fund massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations held a press briefing about the bill and their participation in a large-scale protest this week in the nation’s capital – which in some cases, included being arrested –  in Concord yesterday.

In a fast-tracked process that required Senators to vote on a 500-page draft bill with notes still in the margins, Senate Republicans passed a tax giveaway to the very wealthy and big corporations that will pave the way for massive Medicaid and Medicare cuts, strip 13 million Americans of health care coverage and increase insurance premiums by 10 percent for millions more. Millions of people with disabilities and seniors, working families, and children will be stuck with the bill and cuts to critical services and basic human rights all so the rich can get richer. Governor Chris Sununu has praised the bill as a “net positive.” 

The press conference highlighted the actual impact on middle and lower income Granite Staters and share the personal stories of those who traveled to Washington DC to protest it.

“I traveled to Washington D.C. to protest this bill because I know this bill will hurt the people who can least afford to be hurt, the struggling middle class and the working poor,” said Melissa Hinebauch, Human Rights Co-Chair of the Kent Street Coalition. The mother of three spoke out against the GOP Tax Bill highlighting the harm working families will suffer under the proposal.

Hinebauch also spoke about how the bill will add over $1 trillion dollars to the national debt while Senator Orin Hatch said “we no longer have the money” to fund essential programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). “This tax bill is just mean and heartless.”

Video of Melissa Hinebauch

“People with disabilities will be the hardest hit by this tax bill for the wealthy,” said Forrest Beaudoin-Friede a member of ABLE-NH who traveled also traveled to Washington D.C. to protest this GOP tax bill.  “This tax bill takes away tax credits that help small businesses become ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant. This credit is equal to half of their expenses above $250 dollars. This effectively raises taxes on small businesses who want to open their doors to both customers and workers with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations.”

“This bill will force cuts to Medicaid that will harm people with disabilities, like me, and some will die,” Beaudoin-Friede stated.

Eddie Gomez went to Washington to speak out against this tax bill on behalf of his seven year old nephew who suffers from the genetic disease, Muscular Dystrophy.   The program that helps Gomez’s sister, a single parent, is funded through charitable donations and receives no federal funding.

“This tax bill eliminates deductions for charitable contributions and discourages charitable giving while threatening enormous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. How will my sister be able to afford the care for my nephew on a lower-middle class income?” asked Gomez.

Gomez explained that over 8 million working families used the medical device deduction, that would be eliminated under the GOP tax plan, to help offset the costs of high priced equipment and medical expenses.

Video of Forrest Beaudoin-Friede and Eddie Gomez members of ABLE-NH

“We are fighting against this ‘Reverse Robin Hood’ tax bill” said Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director of ABLE NH.  This tax bill makes “deep cuts to a whole range of programs that are critical to people with disabilities.”

“This tax bill will be a slow death sentence to people with developmental disabilities,” she added.

Video of  Lisa Beaudoin, Executive Director of ABLE NH

This bill will cause “13 million people to lose their healthcare and increase the premiums of millions more,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress.

The GOP Tax Bill passed the senate in a 51-49 party line vote and now moves to a committee of conference to hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Mark Fernald: Voodoo Economics

Supply-Side Economics: Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me; Fool me Three Times?  You Have Got to be Kidding.

Since the Reagan Administration, the Republican Party has been enraptured by what the first President Bush called “Voodoo economics:”  the ‘theory’ that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth and tax receipts.

Republicans have acted on this misguided theory over and over, with the same results:  record-high deficits, soaring debt, and reduced economic growth in the long run.

The Reagan tax cuts caused huge deficits.  In the short term, the economy grew, as the borrowed money sloshed around the economy.  It was ‘morning in America.’  Or, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it, we borrowed a trillion dollars from the Chinese and threw a party.

When the party was over, we endured the severe recession of 1989-1991.  Nearly every major bank in New Hampshire failed.  The re-election campaign of the first President Bush failed along with the economy.

Our next Republican president, George W. Bush, copied the Reagan playbook:  huge tax cuts for the rich, a temporary rise in the economy, followed by the Great Recession.

Recent Democratic administrations provide the counterpoint to “voodoo” supply-side economics.

In 1993, President Clinton signed a tax increase on the rich.  Republicans claimed a tax increase would throw us into recession.  Not a single Republican in Congress voted for the Clinton plan.  What followed was the longest and strongest economic boom in American history, and the first balanced budget in a generation.

During the Obama administration, many of the George W. Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, particularly the tax cuts for the wealthy.  Under Obama, we experienced nearly eight years of steady growth, during which time the unemployment rate and the deficit were cut by more than half.

The last 37 years of economic history present us with two stark choices:

  • Republican tax cuts, huge deficits and a temporary boost to the economy, followed by a bust.
  • Democratic tax increases on the wealthy, followed by steady growth, falling deficits, and no bust.

Incredibly, Republicans appear to be poised to repeat the failed policies of the past.  Their dream is a tax cut bill that gives its biggest gifts to large corporations and the wealthy, while increasing the deficit by “only” $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

The point in reviewing economic history is not that all deficits are bad.  Temporary tax cuts, and temporary deficits, are standard macroeconomic practice when the economy is weak.  When tax cuts are permanent, so are the deficits, but the boost to the economy is temporary.  Increased government borrowing to fund the deficits pushes interest rates up, making business investment more expensive.  Short-term deficits can boost the economy out of recession, but long-term deficits harm the economy in the long run by crowding out private investment.

It is true that tax cuts could be paired with spending cuts.  But consider this:  excluding spending for Social Security and Medicare (which is increasing as the Baby Boomers retire), federal spending is a smaller part of our economy than at any other time over the last four decades.

Republican faith in tax cuts and ‘supply-side’ economics is so strong, it has killed off the traditional Republican fear of deficits.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Democrats claimed that deficits did not matter, passing one unbalanced budget after another.  The stagflation of the 1970s followed.

Republicans won the debate about deficits in the 1970s.  Deficits do matter.  But here’s the irony.  Democrats started talking about fiscal responsibility.  When they gained control in Washington, they acted to reduce the deficit.  Republicans kept railing against deficits, but when they gained control of Washington, in 1981 and again in 2001, fiscal responsibility went out the window and the deficit soared.

The current Republican plan began with a good idea:  a revenue-neutral simplification of the tax code that reduces deductions and loopholes, and lowers tax rates.  That good idea has been swamped by the mania for tax cuts, with no regard for the deficit.  If the Republican plan passes, we will cut taxes for the big corporations and the wealthy by at least $1.5 trillion, and we will borrow every penny needed to pay for those cuts.

We have a lot that needs fixing, including the tax code.  Unfortunately, we are stuck with this Congress until 2018.  They don’t do balanced budgets.  They don’t do hearings.  They don’t listen to experts.  They don’t do science. They do tax cuts for the wealthy, no matter what the cost.

 

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor.  He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Leo W Gerard: GOP Goes for Win on Taxes, Consequences be Damned

An entire year of legislative defeats has grated on the GOP.

Getty Images/marvinh

Their promised Affordable Care Act repeal failed – again and again and again. Their Muslim ban was, well, banned by the courts. And now, in the waning days of November, their infrastructure bill, big beautiful border wall and brand new NAFTA are all missing.

Republicans have lost so much, they’re downright desperate for a win. And that’s why they’re pushing a tax scam supported by a mere 25 percent of Americans, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.

They’ve just got to rack up a win, consequences and American workers be damned. They’re so desperate that GOP Sen. Bob Corker, a self-described deficit hawk, agreed in committee Tuesday to send the bill to the floor for a vote after he got promises for changes. What he wants is cancellation of the bill’s tax breaks if they don’t stimulate economic expansion as Republicans say they will. The GOP keeps swearing the cuts will cause growth despite the fact that the Bush tax breaks didn’t and despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the cuts will add $1.44 trillion to the deficit.

Some deficit hawk. But, hey, anything for a win.

Republicans are so desperate that they’re shoving this scam through what is supposed to be a deliberative process without any of that deliberation – without, for example, routine hearings or assessment by the Treasury Department or Joint Committee on Taxation. So there’s no bipartisan government evaluation of the GOP assertion that the tax breaks will generate economic growth sufficient to account for the massive revenue losses they’ll cause.

Americans hate this scam for good reason. And they do hate it. The latest Harvard-Harris survey showed 54 percent oppose it and the same percent say the scam is likely to hurt them financially. They know a swindle when they see one.

But Republicans feel like they’ve got to have a win. No matter what. Poor people, working people, old people be damned.

And damned they are by the GOP scam.

The GOP bill delivers massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The House version, for example, eliminates the estate tax. This is charged only on estates worth $5.49 million or more. So only the richest of the rich, the top 0.2 percent pay. And among the tiny number nationwide that owe estate tax in 2017, the average effective rate paid is less than 17 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. That’s because the rich employ experts to exploit loopholes so they never pay the official rate of 40 percent.

In addition to generating essential funds for the federal government for more than a century, this tax prevents America from reverting into a kingdom dominated by royal dynasties whose pampered scions thrive by the merit of their grandfathers rather than by the sweat of their brows. This was the system Americans fought a revolution to escape.

But Republicans are voting to bring it back. Anything for a win.

Their scam also bestows on corporations the privilege of paying zero U.S. taxes on the profits of their foreign factories. So instead of the current 35 percent, or the new, low 20 percent rate that Republicans plan to award companies in their tax scam, corporations will pay nothing at all if they move manufacturing from Iowa to India or from Idaho to Mexico.

This will kill American manufacturing and American jobs. Factories will flee even faster to low-wage, high-pollution countries like China where Republicans will absolve them from paying any U.S. income taxes at all! Those Michigan and Ohio auto parts factories – gone. Those Pennsylvania and Illinois steel mills – gone. Those family-supporting jobs – shipped overseas by Republican tax policy.

Republicans are appeasing fat-cat CEOs and shareholders to get themselves a win on taxes. Family-supporting jobs be damned.

The fattest of those cats, the richest 1 percent, rake in 62 percent of the benefits of this tax con by 2027.  Many in the middle class will get tax cuts in the first few years too, but by 2027, their rates rise back up. At that time, this GOP tax fraud would stick 87 million families making less than $200,000 a year with tax increases.

But by then, by 2027, many of those Republicans will have left Congress to become overpaid lobbyists – the kind now demanding income redistribution from the pockets of the poor and middle class up and into the treasure chests of the wealthiest. The tax scam seems like a win for Republicans now, and secure job offers from lobby firms later.

The CBO has estimated that those tax breaks in the Senate GOP bill will dig a $1.44 trillion deficit over 10 years. This hole will be dredged by the party that spent 8 years while President Barack Obama was in office decrying anything that would increase the deficit by a penny. But policy consistency be damned. Anything for a win.

To keep the deficit “down” to $1.4 trillion, Republicans slash and burn programs vital to workers and the elderly like Medicare and the tax credit for student loans.  Democrats have estimated the tax scam will slash $470 billion from Medicare over 10 years. The CBO has estimated those cuts will start next year with $25 billion.

Worse though, is the real potential for Republicans to contend by year five or six, as their tax cuts for the rich and corporations gin up government debt, that programs workers cherish like Social Security and Medicaid must be gutted as well.

So what looks like a Republican win in 2017 could be a tragic loss to American workers by 2027.

Ok. The American people get it. Republicans have had a rough year. They are aching for a win. But doing the wrong thing just to do something is not a win. It’s a scam perpetrated on American workers.

Republicans Ram Through Their Tax Scam

Senators were given two hours to read the 400+ page bill before being asked to vote on it.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last three days by now you have already heard that Republicans in the Senate rammed through their wildly unpopular tax proposal that will raise taxes on the middle class and strip healthcare from 13 million people. The bill would also raise our national deficit by over $1 trillion dollars over the next ten years.

“This partisan tax bill is a giveaway to corporate special interests, not something that will help the middle class,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “I am extremely disappointed that my Republican colleagues passed a bill that non-partisan experts have shown will raise taxes on millions of hard-working families, increase health care premiums by 10 percent annually, and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt – all to give tax cuts to corporate special interests and the wealthiest few. There is strong bipartisan support for real tax reform that would benefit hard-working people and small businesses, but this is not that bill.”

“We need bipartisan tax reform to simplify our tax code, bolster the middle class, support small businesses and create jobs. But the partisan bill forced through the Senate and passed on a party-line vote failed to address any of these critical needs,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This legislation asks middle-class families to foot the bill for massive tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, and will have serious ramifications for Granite Staters who rely on important tax benefits that are eliminated under this bill. I am tremendously disappointed by the secretive manner in which Senate Republicans crafted this legislation, and I’m concerned about how the middle class, seniors, homeowners, teachers and so many others will suffer as a result of this legislation. As the tax overhaul process moves forward, I’ll continue to push for bipartisanship and to protect essential New Hampshire priorities, including the state and local tax deduction and the student loan interest deduction.”

The Republican tax bill will add nearly $1.5 trillion to the national debt and make most families who earn less than $75,000 a year pay more in taxes by 2027. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, by 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year will be worse off. The bill would lead to $25 billion in cuts from Medicare, harming seniors, and repeals part of the Affordable Care Act, which will raise healthcare costs and leave more Americans uninsured. Additionally, the Republican tax plan could prevent homeowners in New Hampshire from deducting state and local taxes and increase the tax burden on work-study students at colleges and universities.

“At a moment when 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day, members of the Senate have stolen the retirement health benefits that Americans have earned over a lifetime to provide an unneeded windfall to the top 1%. They seem determined to create a retirement crisis that will take decades to reverse,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“The GOP tax bill that passed the Senate by one vote is nothing but an attack on America’s workers,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits.”

“President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country. The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that creates jobs,” Trumka added.

“In voting to give a tax break for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations, Senate Republicans have made an enemy for themselves in their own constituents,” said Tax March Executive Director Nicole Gill. “As a result of this monstrous bill, 87 million middle-class families would pay more in taxes so that Republicans can reward their rich donors with even more unearned tax breaks. Not only would working families see their own taxes go up, this bill threatens massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and critical funding for programs that hardworking Americans rely on. Senators who voted for this scheme should be ashamed and will not avoid the repercussions from voters – we won’t forget.”

“The bill passed today is nothing more than a giveaway to the richest households and corporations, period,” said Josh Bivens, of the Economic Policy Institute. “It will raise taxes on many low- and moderate-income households, and the deficits it will leave in its wake will be used to attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—a strategy clearly telegraphed by both the Republican budget resolution from last month as well as by Senator Rubio more recently. Besides lying about who would benefit most directly from the tax cut, defenders of today’s bill have also lied about the trickle-down benefits that will accrue to workers in the form of higher wages. Simply put, this bill will not raise wages for typical workers—but it will deny health insurance to 13 million workers, a measure Senate Republicans included to help contain the overall cost of giving large tax cuts to rich households and corporations. This bill is a scam through-and-through.”

For years Republicans in the Senate have used the “Debt and Deficit” as a way to justify their votes against a variety of bills. They even shut down the government for almost two weeks because they refused to raise the debt ceiling. Yet, all of those issues seemed to disappear as they voted to increase the national debt by over $1 trillion dollars.

The Concord Coalition is a right-leaning government watchdog group that is focused on reducing the national debt and opposes these cuts.

The Concord Coalition said today that the tax legislation considered by the Senate is based on flawed economics, reckless fiscal policy and blatant budget gimmickry. It would worsen the nation’s fiscal outlook and introduce new complexities in the tax code at a time when policymakers should be aiming to lower deficits and make the tax code more efficient.

“This is the wrong bill at the wrong time,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Like its counterpart in the House, the Senate’s tax bill is based on the flawed premise that another trillion dollars or more of new debt is needed to spur higher economic growth.”

He added: “The economy does not need short-term stimulus from a major tax cut at this time. And over the long term, adding more debt to the already unsustainable path of current fiscal policies would act as a restraint on future growth. Revenue-neutral tax reform would not have this problem.”

Because the Senate version and the House version are different, a committee of conference will be created to iron out the details before it must come back for an “up and down” vote.

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