Wednesday, December 20, 2017

This Tax Bill is Open Class Warfare

I don't get the itch to write publicly too often anymore, so this blog is not terribly well maintained, and I haven't updated in a bit. Remember this last one I posted? Well, I haven't gotten any less angry. I've been busy, filling my time with activism, knocking on doors and phone banking and trying to be useful to organizers. Been a hell of a year, hasn't it? Yeah, so this tax bill thing just passed, and I've been having a hard time with it, personally.

Who wins and who loses?

Non-partisan analysts say the greatest beneficiaries of the package will be the super-wealthy, multinational corporations and the commercial property industry. In the immediate future, the plan will see the vast majority of taxpayers having lower tax bills, but those cuts expire in 2025.
By 2027, the Tax Policy Center estimates the overall change would be negligible. And 53% of taxpayers would face higher bills, many of them in the lower income brackets.
It's gonna add $1.5 TRILLION to the national debt. It's gonna screw up a lot of people's ability to get healthcare. It's gonna open up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, which I was knocking on doors to keep from happening in the year 2001. It drops the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and adds a ton of extra juicy loopholes they can exploit. It takes a HUGE step toward widening the already huge gap between the super wealthy and the rest of us by DOUBLING the amount shielded by the estate tax. I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to have a hereditary aristocratic class in this society, but the Republicans want us to have one apparently.

Worse than that, the $1.5 trillion isn't even the whole story. The tax bill:

... gets referred to as only a $1.5 trillion cut because it raises $4.5 trillion in taxes elsewhere. But the key question is: Who gets a tax hike and who gets a tax cut? Put simply, the bulk of the tax cut is going toward the rich, while the tax increases go to everybody else. And so the bill, properly described, is two things: the largest tax cut — and also the biggest tax increase — in American history.

Details are here, if you wanna test what reading it does to your blood pressure. But here's where it gets really mean: This tax bill is a setup for huge government cuts in how we take care of the downtrodden and disabled.

The Republicans have already admitted that's their plan, and we know how they plan to do it. Under the 2010 Pay-As-You-Go Act, they can automatically just cut spending on stuff if there isn't funding. Well we know there won't be funding because they just cut taxes! Do you see any way in which the dollar amount needed in government support for the needy is gonna go down with the rich getting richer and the rest of us getting less?

The economy is not the stock market and the stock market is not the economy. If GDP goes up because the megacorporations are able to ship more decent jobs overseas and pocket their savings on these huge cuts to their taxes, and all the employment growth here is for service jobs (as has been the trend for a while now), we're not getting anywhere good. All they're leaving is retail jobs selling things the workers can't afford to buy, server jobs in restaurants they can't afford to eat in. What happened to minimum wage meaning nobody had to rely on government to provide for them? That was actually the original idea, and we've let it rot as real earnings stagnated while all the wealth in the country trickled to the top from the 70's onward. From Forbes:
From 1948 until the early 1970s, wages rose in tandem with productivity. However, since 1973, productivity has grown 72% while wages are up a measly 9%. What’s behind the stalled wage growth? There has been an ever-wider gap in income inequality. The top 5% of earners saw their wages swell by 60% since 1973. The top 1% reaped a 138% increase. Today, Fortune 400 CEO’s earn 296-times the average American wage—up from 24-times in 1973.

It's been a class war for a long time, now. Nowadays we make government work by hiking the cost of tuition at public colleges rather than raise taxes (more money for the money changers that way!). Nowadays we all pay more in taxes for the poor to eat because society has to cover the difference between minimum wage and what it takes for an earner to eat or pay for their family to eat, because minimum wage is a joke and paying people enough to survive isn't as profitable. But since Republicans are blowing up the deficit, we are gonna have to cut services because they say so.

I'mma let you in on something you may not know. My family has survived some hard days. At one point I'd been laid off and was getting unemployment insurance, and we were using food stamps (SNAP) and WIC, and we liquidated my 401K to pay for the full allowable term of COBRA so my son could get his medically abso-fucking-loutely-necessary surgeries. Barely managed to not lose the house. We were lucky. The $25 BILLION in cuts this tax bill will likely mean for Medicaid is gonna hurt people and end lives, and again, that's just a teensy part of the $1.5 TRILLION they're gonna carve out of necessary support for the most vulnerable among us.  

But you know no discussion of the future would be complete on this blog without mention of climate change. The world is literally going up in flames where it isn't drowning. The flames and water are gonna get worse for decades before they get better even IF we were responsibly treating it as the massive national threat that it is. We've already got infrastructure problems like Flint's water and bridges falling apart and old tech failing on rail lines that serve private profit over public transit, now Puerto Rico needs a new (and more durable) power grid. Can you imagine how much worse it'll get with a few more years of fires and floods like we've had in 2017?

We are looking at a future of Great Depression-era-level food shortages and economic disruptions around the world, with underfunded programs to provide for the needs of the masses. Dustbowl ain't got nothin' on Global Warming. Meanwhile, our leadership is bullying the world and isolating the hell out of us, undermining every possible government agency from the EPA to the FDA, and "cashing out." 

It's time to raise taxes on corporations and the super rich. The Koch brothers and the Mercers funding the right wing politicians while pushing austerity on the rest of us need to pay their share.

I need everyone reading this not just to vote for a Democratic candidate or two and call it done, or just to throw their hands up and say both parties are the same, I need everyone reading this to fight. Get out on the street and knock on doors. Phone bank if the door knocking is uncomfortable. Write letters to the editor or send a letter to your congressional representatives. Contact your senators, your county commissioners, your state representatives, your city counselors.

We need shelters so the poor don't die in the street like we're living in a goddamn Dickens novel instead of 21st Century USA. We need infrastructure to bring water to Flint and power to Puerto Rico. We need our votes to count, and we need the Republicans who don't mind children dying of starvation and deprivation to fear the angered conscience of a nation of good people.

Please, if you need ideas for actions you can take, there are resources out there. Let me be one. Look at local groups and what they're working on and ask how you can help. Indivisible organized a ton of phone banking against this tax bill and has tons of ways for you to get involved locally, wherever you are. Nasty Women Get Sh*t Done PDX has a huge list of actions you can take. The Democratic Socialists are active nation wide. My County Democratic Party is fighting right now to get Measure 101 passed to maintain funding for Medicaid/OHP and protect 400,000 children in Oregon, and they're looking for volunteers. Hell, you can text message your way to progressive action by using ResistBot, and my local Dems even have something similar that'll send you a couple news/action items a week.

There's a lot of work to do, and only 321 days until the 2018 elections.

Round up your friends. I'll bring pizza. Let's get to work.