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Bouman writes: "What do taxes have to do with poverty and opportunity? A great deal, actually."

A food pantry. (photo: Getty Images)
A food pantry. (photo: Getty Images)

ALSO SEE: CBO: The Senate Republican Tax
Bill Takes Billions From the Poor

ALSO SEE: Why the Senate Doesn't Have
the Votes It Needs to Pass Tax Reform

GOP Tax Agenda Is a Grave Threat to People in Poverty

By John Bouman, The Hill

27 November 17


hat do taxes have to do with poverty and opportunity? A great deal, actually.

Taxes might seem painful and tedious — painful to pay and tedious to deal with — but they are important. Taxes pay for vital services that ensure equal opportunity, promote upward mobility, and ultimately benefit all of us. Tax policies are the less glamorous half of our public budgets  —  those profoundly moral documents that reflect our country’s priorities and values.

Congressional Republicans have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the tax code to make it more fair and just, and to improve the lives of working people and people living in poverty.

And what have they produced? An agenda that is a moral and fiscal disaster.

Just as the season of giving takes hold, congressional Republicans are advancing tax legislation at a breakneck pace that would deliver massive giveaways to the ultra-rich at the expense of everyone else. House Republicans voted earlier this month to pass their legislation, while the Senate could vote as early as this week to advance theirs.

Though there are some differences between the two plans, the broad contours are largely the same: both would give lavish tax cuts to our country’s largest corporations and wealthiest people, while raising taxes on millions of middle- and moderate-income households.

Furthermore, both plans pave the way for a large-scale assault on crucial basic assistance programs. After driving up the federal deficit by some $1.5 trillion dollars over the next decade to pay for those tax cuts to the super-wealthy, lawmakers will likely use these shortfalls as pretext to slash programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and food and housing assistance — just as congressional Republicans voted to do earlier this year.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has already warned lawmakers that their tax plan could trigger an automatic $25 billion cut to Medicare in 2018 alone, and President Trump has himself suggested that “welfare reform” — a euphemism for attacking safety net programs — is next up on the legislative agenda.

Worse still, the Senate plan would also repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate. As the CBO reports, this would strip roughly 13 million people of health insurance and cause premiums to soar for millions more consumers.

And to boot, the House legislation would exacerbate the affordable housing crisis currently plaguing low-income Americans around the country, scrapping key credits and exemptions that help finance the production and maintenance of thousands of multifamily rental units.

Put short: the GOP tax agenda is nothing short of a reckless attempt at Robin Hood in reverse, devastating legislation that, in the end, would sharply increase poverty and hunger, decimate state budgets, and ultimately reduce opportunity for millions of low- and moderate-income people in this country.

Now, tax policies could be used to improve the lives and chances at upward mobility of people living in poverty, if Congress was so inclined.

For example, rather than cutting taxes on the rich, congressional Republicans could use tax reform to capitalize on the broad, bipartisan support for improving the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The CTC is a tax credit that provides crucial financial support for tens of millions of low- and moderate-income families — but, because it is not refundable against payroll taxes, millions of our country’s poorest families and children are locked out of its benefits.

Thankfully, senators from both sides of the aisle — including Republicans Marco Rubio and Mike Lee, and Democrats Sherrod Brown and Michael Bennet — have proposed expanding and increasing the credit to reach lower-income families. Doing so would make the CTC more like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — one of our country’s most effective anti-poverty programs.

Nonetheless, Republican leaders have ignored these calls, electing to instead make adjustments to the CTC that largely benefit wealthy households, while offering only token help to some 20 million low-income kids and actively jeopardizing the credit for many in immigrant families.

Taxes are about values and priorities. Currently, the Republican tax plans prioritize the ultra-rich over everyone else, and lay out a harsh vision for our nation in which opportunity is more and more scarce for people experiencing poverty. Unless they wish to make this country much less fair and just, lawmakers should vote to kill this disastrous plan. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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+8 # krazykwiltkatt 2017-11-27 17:46
Welcome to the Third World, USA. Squalor in the streets, dying children, Grandma picking up cans by the side of the road and dying of hypothermia under a bridge. Prisons overcrowded, on lock-down or in riots. Loss of mass transit (such as it is). Freud posited the 'Death Wish' in humans. The people of USA seem to have a mass death wish and it looks like it will be granted. Enjoy!
+4 # MainStreetMentor 2017-11-28 16:13
Pseudo Tax Reform Spills 0ver into Individual States

Missouri Governor has appointed hand-picked sycophants to populate a “fair taxes” board and the Missouri Housing Development Commission – all thinly disguised as fake justification to totally defund the most successful Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, (available to individual states) in the state! 300,000 low-income residents (and those on waiting lists) are in very real jeopardy of losing their homes. The “cover story” is: Budget cutting needs. The truth is: an additional, across-the-boar d 4% reduction in corporate taxes for corporations in, or coming to, the State of Missouri. Results: 80,000+ lost jobs; $7+Million lost wages; $3+Million in lost state taxes (all types). This is NOT tax reform, it is a “gift” to corporations at the expense of those who desperately need housing.
0 # elizabethblock 2017-11-28 16:31
It must be a good thirty years ago that a friend came home from a visit to Philadelphia and reported seeing homeless men gathered round fires in oil barrels, and called it the Third World.
+3 # MikeAF48 2017-11-27 18:51
ah finally trumps tax package If you are middle class $75k a year you soon will pay more, New house or just a house-not happening vacations get a second job, Collage-get real, health insurance you must be kidding, savings-LOL. A living wage-nope I could go on but why.
+3 # MainStreetMentor 2017-11-28 16:15

Below is ACTUAL information about a person who lives in a Missouri Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program apartment:

TOTAL ANNUAL GROSS income: $8000
Total ANNUAL RENT: $4980
Total ANNUAL NET income: $3020
Total MONTHLY net income: $ 252
Total DAILY net income: $ 8

This individual must also pay:
1. Electric/cooling-heating bill
2. Water bill
3. Grocery bill
4. Medical bill

Abject poverty is crushing.

I’d be willing to bet that the last single luncheon bill for the membership of the Missouri Housing Development Commission meeting exceeded $252.00 (or the equivalent to the total monthly net income for this specific resident of a Missouri Low-income Housing Tax Credit apartment). Yet this Commission is working to entirely de-fund the Missouri Low-income Housing Tax Credit Program, in order to “improve” their budget number for FY 2019. If that happens, the above person will not have a place to live, except for “on-the-street” . Lord only knows how many more poverty suffering individuals there are like this one.
+4 # jsluka 2017-11-27 22:44
The Republican worldview is that being poor is a reflection of immorality (see Max Weber's classic study "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"), which should be punished. They also believe that the best way to "solve poverty" or "get people out of poverty" is to punish them for it. This is an old ideology that goes back to at least the Industrial Revolution, along with the idea that the poor are a "criminal class."
-1 # Robbee 2017-11-28 09:17
Quoting jsluka:
The Republican worldview is that being poor is a reflection of immorality (see Max Weber's classic study "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"), which should be punished. They also believe that the best way to "solve poverty" or "get people out of poverty" is to punish them for it. This is an old ideology that goes back to at least the Industrial Revolution, along with the idea that the poor are a "criminal class."

- is bloody revolution why you support voting trump to "bring on the REVOLUTION"?

how's that workin' out for ya?
-1 # Robbee 2017-11-28 10:04
GOP Tax Agenda Is a Grave Threat to People in Poverty, 27 November 17

someone once said: "poor people don't vote" - look it up!

lie! poor whites vote! - check results of the last election! - there are far too few rich whites to elect any candidate to any national office in any, single state! - poor repukes vastly outnumber rich ones!

it will take a great human, a ghandi, a christ, a mandela, dare i say a bernie?, to rectify, among white and non-white poor, the omission!

in 19 states i'm told, repuke legislatures and governors refuse to expand medicaid - the practical result is that every year thousands of folks who otherwise would live, die

a decade ago, before obamacare, m.moore of sicko estimated 80,000 folks per year - more humanitarian journalists need to document their life or death struggle

poor folks have good reason to vote, for them it's life or death - someone needs to embrace them and lead them to vote their interest - it may seem simple but race is involved; the poor need to look past race and to see common interest with other poor folk - my 2 cents
+1 # ddd-rrr 2017-11-28 07:20
Thanks, John Bouman, for writing what should be obvious to anyone who is capable
of thinking, but which appears to escape 'Bublican "thought", from top-to-bottom!
I'm reminded of "expand the tax base"; translation: "tax more of the poorest".
BTW, running right now are ads on MSNBC and similar that are
touting the "advantages" to all of passing
this "turkey".
0 # Robbee 2017-11-28 10:49
Quoting ddd-rrr 2017-11-28 07:20:
"expand the tax base"; translation: "tax more of the poorest"

- to assume that the poor are not taxed is a quaint notion

this is a commonly misunderstood fallacy - the poor are already heavily taxed, irrespective of income tax

every month a poor person pays, for someplace to live, rent, the poor person effectively pays all local property taxes on their abode

next, poor folk don't have excess income to invest in a stock market or anyplace else - as consumers they spend every penny to live from day to day - so, to live, they spend everything they have and pay state sales tax on everything they spend

hence, irrespective of income tax, the poor are already heavily taxed - frankly, as a percentage of income, the are local and state-taxed much heavier than everyone else - in other words, local and state taxes are "regressive" not "progressive"; they hit poor folk much harder

technically, to federally tax the poor, as repukes intend, does not "expand the tax base", instead it singularly "expands the federal income tax base" - repukes only propose to tax poor folks heavier
+1 # librarian1984 2017-11-29 11:12
It was good to see Democrats (and two Independents) defending an economy that helps people instead of corporations and the rich. Many of them spoke beautifully. Angus King in particular was quite eloquent. He started by quoting Tacitus, who said that Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay, falsehood by haste and uncertainty.

"This may be the most important bill many of us will ever vote on because it will affect every American, every business and the entire US economy for the next 20-30 years.

"To me that means we should take the utmost care in what we're doing, that we have a responsibility, because the stakes are high, to make the process have a high standard, so we understand the implications .. instead, where we have the highest possible stakes, we've had the worst possible process.

"In my experience in public life I have never seen a process like this, where you've got an incredibly complicated and important piece of legislation with ZERO hearings, ZERO input from citizens, ZERO input from experts. This has been done in a matter of weeks. When this process was undertaken in 1986 (it took 14 months, 100s of hours of debate), and it got 90 votes.

"That's the way this SHOULD be done ..

"Two thirds of the economy is consumer spending .. we should be focussing on the middle class .. We could have 70 or 80 votes for a tax reform proposal that was less damaging, more stimulative to the economy and more fairly distributed."
+1 # librarian1984 2017-11-29 11:19
Angus King, continued:

"If I were on (the GOP) side I would be very nervous about this bill because it's full of traps."

He concluded by noting, as several did, that they were shocked by the hypocrisy of deficit hawks since this bill, a tax reform bill packaged with a repeal of the individual mandate and an act to allow drilling in Alasksn wilderness, will drive the deficit up by at least $2.4 trillion dollars, bringing the debt to over 100% of the GDP, leaving US vulnerable to our debtors if growth is not as anticipated (it won't be) or interest rates go up. If they go up to 5.5-6%, the interest on our debt will use the entire 48% of the discretionary budget left after military spending.
0 # librarian1984 2017-11-29 11:38
Tim Kaine also spoke well. He said when he was a mayor they had proposed a limit on the number of cats and dogs citizens could own. They published the proposal in the newspaper, held hearings at which any and all citizens were allowed to speak, the nine city councillors debated, and then they voted.

"That hearing in the Richmond City Council was more deliberative, was more inclusive, was more fair, was more transparent, than a tax bill that is going to re-orient the entire American economy for the next twenty years.

"I hate to see hearings disrupted by citizens .. but what choice do they have, when we refuse to allow a single hearing, when we have a vote before we allow (senators on the committee) to have a voice. Why are we doing it this way? [36 protestors were arrested.] ...

"The GOP is not measured by who they SAY their hero is (Reagan), but who they act like, and this is a Donald Trump bill. I'm not surprised by the president but I am surprised by colleagues who would vote for this bill."

We cannot let this tax bill through. It is a disaster for everyone except a few. It contains dozens of GOP wish list items like repealing the estate tax and lowering the corporate tax rate precipitously.T hose cuts are permanent. Cuts for individuals are temporary. By 2027 anyone making less than $75,000/yr will be paying more, as we funnel it to the rich.

OTOH a defeat will GREATLY weaken the GOP.

We MUST stop it. Call. Write. Visit.
+1 # librarian1984 2017-11-29 11:47
And, as Sen. Van Hollen said, this is a two-step. We know what the next phase of the plan is. As soon as this bill goes through they would rediscover their desperate need to reduce the debt, and they would attack the military budget. Oh wait, no, that 's not what they'll do. They will destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

It is a tough fight because the GOP desperately wants this. They need a win, any win, and their donors have told them they will cut off their funding if they don't pass this. Trump supporters will be incredibly angry if the party gets NO MAJOR LEGISLATION through this year -- so let's do this. Let's fight.

The stakes are incredibly high but it is worth the struggle. We can deliver a crushing blow to the GOP and Trump, and to their donors, if we can STOP THIS BILL.

We can also save the ACA and an Arctic wilderness area -- if we call, write and visit their offices.

Protestors are being very creative. Join them!
-1 # Depressionborn 2017-11-29 12:06
poor now get to pay the rich taxes. {don't tell Ash}

Since state and local taxes can be deducted, the tax burden is shifted from those governments to the federal government, which in turn makes up for this lost revenue by keeping taxes higher on the rest of the country. In effect, taxpayers in low-tax states and cities, like those in the South, are forced to subsidize the lavish public spending of liberals in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California, who have little incentive to reduce the local taxes that fund their pet projects. It is much like making charitable donations online using someone else’s credit card. It does not make you Robin Hood. It makes you a charlatan, which is why rather than pay the bill, the millionaires who helped put these Democrats in power, would rather flee like cowards
+1 # librarian1984 2017-11-30 00:41
You still don't get it. We are ALL getting screwed, red states and blue. They want us to blame each other but we need to UNITE against this horrible bill.
-1 # Depressionborn 2017-12-01 14:19
hey 1984, my subject was state tax deductions.
They transfer income from low tx states to high.

Of course gov hurts [takes advantage] of us all. That is expected. But a different subject

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