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!
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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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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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An Escape Raft From Trump

How a declaration of resistance is really a plot to escape blame

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How does a person come back from being part of a great injustice? I'm not talking about how a person recovers from being a victim of a great wrong, nor am I referring to the process of judging those who perpetrated the act. No, what I want to know is how those who aide and abet such actions, those who collaborate and stand idly by, come back into the fold of civilized society without being held to account.

A few weeks ago there was an anonymous Op-Ed in the New York Times from a senior White House official. The piece caused a great stir because it alleged a great conspiracy within the president's administration by even its most senior members to thwart the worst impulses of the president and keep the nation on a relatively sane track. Much of the coverage has focused on trying to identify the author of this controversial piece or praising those brave souls in the administration who are a part of the resistance. I was among this crowd until I started reading a bit further about this article and what it represented. With that further exploration I came to realize that what I took for a reassuring statement to the American public was actually something much more sinister.

How does a person come back from being part of a great injustice? This is the question that is currently haunting the leaders of the Republican Party as they grapple with the Trump presidency and the taint it casts upon their party. As the increasingly impending likelihood that Democrats will take back Congress and ramp up investigations, not only into Trump himself, but also the upper echelons of his administration and even members of Congress, Republicans are searching for any way to avoid blame before this impending storm of controversy and negative stigma hits.

This is where the op-ed and its cynical ploy comes in to play. While I have little doubt that there is a faction in the White House that attempts to curb the president to some degree, I do not for a moment believe it could be called a resistance or the actions of so-called 'adults in the room.' The point of the Op-Ed was not to give voice to this faction, but to control the narrative of Republicans in the White House, to tell a story about otherwise good people who work for this horrible man, but do it because they are preventing someone worse from coming along and doing something really bad. It's a convincing tale all things considered and its been proven to work in the past. Clichéd as it is to bring up Nazis with the Trump administration, in this particular case it fits, many Nazis after the war told tales of honorable Germans who were only doing things out of their patriotic duty and with the belief that if they didn't carry out orders someone else much worse would. It was convincing enough that thousands of former Nazis never received any meaningful form of punishment and lived out the rest of their days never having to atone for their participation in some of the greatest crimes in human history.

The thing about the 'preventing worse things from happening' argument both then and now is that it is complete and utter B.S. Many Germans knew what the Nazis were doing was wrong the same way as many Republicans know what Trump is doing is wrong, they just don't care because it gets them what they want, which is usually power. After some initial hesitation, Republicans were all too eager to embrace Trump and what he represented like moths to a racist, sexist flame. They endorsed and stood by him on the campaign trail even as his behavior set new lows for conduct, as his supporters unlashed a new hatful undercurrent into the party, and as shocking allegations about his personal conduct came out. Even as president when his capacity to lead has been shown on numerous occasions to be insufficient for the office, and his past activities are being revealed as startlingly criminal in nature, they stand by and affirm their support until the end.

Such stubborn loyalty might be commendable if it wasn't to such a horrible man who does such horrible things, except for that fact that it is illusionary. Republicans loyalty to Trump only lasts as far as it brings them power. And now that Trump's star is starting to fall and the voters are preparing to make their displeasure clear at the ballot box, they are seeking to distance themselves from him as fast as possible. The op-ed is simply the first step, to introduce the idea that Republicans were never that invested in Trump in the first place and were always present in opposing him, just not in any open or accountable way. They hope that their efforts coupled with the public's intense dislike of Trump and his close cohorts will allow history to repeat itself and they can get away scot free without their involvement ever coming to light.

We as the American people need to stop this narrative right here at the start and recognize it for what it is, a cynical ploy by a bunch of greedy, corrupt cowards trying to save their own skin as their boss takes the fall. We cannot allow them to succeed in this; we cannot allow them to escape justice. In the name of all those that have been harmed by this administration, in honor of all that has been endangered by their lust for power, they must be held accountable.

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