Let's Talk About The GOP Tax Plan

Let's Talk About The GOP Tax Plan

A 404 page document with illegible scribbles from lobbyists, it must be a winner!

The only appropriate way to open this week's article is to quote my dream mans Hasan Piker:

"It's tax season, baby! Woo!! Deep cuts, thicc cuts. Yeah! We're going into a recession! MAGA! Sorry, I just love imagining the idea that giving corporations, who already are experiencing record high profits, more tax cuts with the hopes that it'll somehow magically eliminate labor exploitation and reduce income inequality."

On that note, let's talk the Republican tax plan. The tax code is, by definition, boring. With phrases like "corporate inversion" and "zero-based budgeting" and "quantitative easing" (made famous by Jill Stein claiming it was a magic trick that you didn't need to understand, it's just a magic trick, featured in conjunction with John Oliver's coverage on third parties), the tax code is inherently boring. But we can't let that stop us from being informed of the tax code, not just how it pertains to us, but also in the broader scope of the economy.

Riveting, I know.

But tax codes themselves play a big role in how the party line is toed. All candidates have a stance on taxes - who should be taxed, what is tax deductible, etc. Trump is no exception, though his Republican Party's version of the tax code is particularly horrifying.

The main goal of the House's version of the plan, a 440-page piece of legislative garbage (my opinion, admittedly) was to lower taxes on companies, all in an effort to make them more competitive and discourage them from leaving the country. This has always been a Republican idea, and was one of the main pillars of Trump's "campaign", for lack of a better term. In practice, the new tax bill reduces corporate tax from 35 to 20 percent.

You're probably thinking, "Who gives a shit?"

Wait. It's important.

The other important (and major) provisions of this bill are that it keeps the individual mandate from Obamacare, but this is only in the Senate version, meaning it might end up NOT appearing when the House and Senate have to make their bills match. This could an issue. A big issue. A "You guys didn't want our healthcare plan? Here, we're just going to fuck you over" big issue.

The big piece though is this: Big business is getting a huge win from this plan, and small businesses are getting, well, a marginally better deal than in the past. Slashing the corporate tax from 35 to 20 percent is the largest single cut in history, that has no expiration date. On top of that big change, companies will also be getting new tax breaks to help lower their bills, and the entire business tax system (how money is taxed as it moves behind the scenes, essentially) will be changed from a worldwide model to a territorial model. Starting to see why this matters? Just wait.

If big business does well, so do rich people. The top 1% will see benefits from changes in the estate tax (which will go away entirely in 2024), being able to keep charitable deductions, and the alternative minimum tax goes away, which is to safeguard against excessive tax dodging. You know who this benefits in particular? Donald Trump.

Donald Trump promised that he would lower taxes for the middle class. And it is clear he doesn't do it. Most Americans will pay the same (possibly lower) taxes until 2023 when a key tax break for the middle class expires: the Family Flexibility Credit. They are claiming taxes will get simpler as they consolidate tax brackets and eliminate individual deductions. Oh yeah, you read that right, individual deductions are going away except for three: charitable donations, property taxes greater than $10,000 annually, and mortgage interest deduction. The one that has most people up in arms it the loss of tax breaks associated with going to college, because it's going to be expensive. The Washington Post summarized it best:

"At the moment, low and middle-income Americans can deduct up to $2,500 a year in student loan interest. That benefit would go away in 2018. In addition, grad students who get tuition waivers because they teach or do research would now have to pay income tax on the waiver, a big change. "

The price tag for this bill is $1.4 trillion dollars, and that goes straight to the deficit. And while economists say that it will create growth, it's not nearly enough to cover the costs.

There's a lot of reasons to be upset about this plan: it's a badly defended savior bill of our economy, that the deficit issue is only like, the fifth worst thing about it, or that it's even a mixed bag for corporate America.

What I'm upset about, though? The Republicans, who bitched and bitched about the "deficit inflating" Obamacare are now claiming that their own plan will pay for itself, when the reality is by ALL models (frankly, including their own) that the actual pricetag is $1.4 trillion. Trillion. With a T.

What upsets me about this is that when its $1.4 trillion in the pockets of themselves, their friends, and in the end, their children when the estate tax does not apply to their own wealth, they are willing to balloon the debt out of the water because it benefits THEM. But when it's $1.4 trillion to make sure people can survive curable diseases and not go bankrupt from it, like Obamacare, all of a sudden the deficit is all that matters, and if we make the deficit any deeper, we will go into another financial crisis.

I wasn't (as) fired about this until I read Vox's article this week entitled, "Orrin Hatch just made the Republican agenda startlingly clear". This quote is what lit the fire in me to even give a shit about tax code:

"'I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything,” he [Orrin Hatch] said. “Unfortunately, the liberal philosophy has created millions of people that way, who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend on the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.'"

So, basically, here's the point. The Republicans are willing to spend $1.4 trillion that goes immediately put into their pockets, but not willing to spend $1.4 trillion on their constituents who are not as well off as them. The CHIP program (Children's Insurance Program) has been the center of this debate. It would cost less than 1% of the proposed $1.4 trillion tax bill to keep this program running next year. Less. Than. 1%. And its existence is in jeopardy. The Republicans can't even give a shit about children anymore, how do you think they feel about the rest of us?

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school. I’ll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted. Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I’m 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?” A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?”, I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week.” I let it roll off of my back, I’ve spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back”… but I think it’s time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister. She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn’t have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her. I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn’t though. I didn’t let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization. Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn’t directed to what we, in today’s society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one’s self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so. This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God’s creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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To Fathers Acting like Parents, Not Strangers

You are a rare breed.


Thank you for everything that you are; for knowing that it is better to try to be there than to be absent entirely; for loving your children instead of teaching them not to love themselves.

"Father": there are many that vacate this title. Either they don't know what it means or they do and simply do not want to take on the role. It's "too much" for them. Tell me, is a father's presence too much for him or is his absence too much for the children? Who hurts more? The fathers at least had something to let go of, but a child never had anything to hold onto. Perhaps now their small hands only grasp the notion of a family, but even then, the concept is too big for them to wrap their fingers around.

So thank you for not letting your children's childhood lay as a corpse in a casket. Thank you for showing them that they are not some part-time job. Thank you for letting them know that they weren't a job to begin with; that loving them iseasy and difficult— but never impossible. Thank you for staying and making your presence worth it.

Thank you.

Cover Image Credit:

Derek Thomson

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