Economy & Business

Why We Must Raise Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy, Not Lower Them

by Robert Reich – When Barack Obama was president, congressional Republicans were deficit hawks. They opposed almost everything Obama wanted to do by arguing it would increase the federal budget deficit. But now that Republicans are planning giant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, they’ve stopped worrying about deficits. Senate Republicans have agreed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which means giant budget deficits. Unless Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and defense, that is.  Even if Republicans eliminated everything elsein the federal budget – from education to Meals on Wheels – they wouldn’t have nearly enough to pay for tax cuts of the magnitude Republicans are now touting. But Republicans won’t cut Social Security or Medicare because the programs are overwhelmingly popular. And rather than cut defense, Senate Republicans want to increase defense spending by a whopping $80 billion (enough to fund free public higher education that Bernie Sanders proposed in...

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Following Harvey and Maria, House Republicans Propose $10 Billion … for Trump’s Wall

by Gabe Ortiz – Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico is nothing short of catastrophic. “Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island,” noted Vox, with more than three million U.S. citizens facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates,damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said his panel will vote on the legislation next week. The bill also would add 10,000 more border patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, tap the National Guard to patrol the southern border and target people who have overstayed visas. “Now that we have a partner in the White House who has made this a top priority, it’s time to send a bill to President Trump’s...

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Trump Tax “Hoax” Would Blow $5 Trillion Hole in Budget Over Next Decade: Analysis

by Jon Queally – ‘The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along.’ Trumpcare may be dead again (for a while at least) on Tuesday, but Republicans now want to get serious about what they call “tax reform,” but which critics are resolute in saying is just a major push to give the nation’s corporation and wealthiest individuals another massive giveaway they don’t need and certainly don’t deserve. A day ahead of the Trump administration’s scheduled release of what it says will be a “detailed” tax plan, progressive policy groups are again warning the American people not to be fooled by rhetoric as they highlight estimates showing the likely proposal will cost the government trillions of dollars in revenue over the next decade and lead the way towards massive cuts in key social programs that help insulate low-income...

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‘Our Momentum Is Unstoppable’: Workers Celebrate as Target Announces $15 Minimum Wage

by Jake Johnson – “Never underestimate the power of organizing.” In what is being described as a huge victory for the tens of thousands of workers across the country who have for years organized, rallied, and gone on strike for higher wages, Target on Monday announced that it plans to raise the company-wide minimum hourly wage to $11 by next month and $15 by 2020. “Five years ago, when 200 New York City fast-food workers first walked off the job for $15 an hour and union rights, nobody gave us a shot. Since then, we’ve spread this movement to every corner of the country and beyond fast-food. We did what they said we couldn’t: we won. We won in the states, in the cities, with the big politicians and with the big corporations,” Steven Suffridge, a Minneapolis McDonald’s Worker and Fight for $15 organizer, wrote in an email reacting to the news. “And...

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Krugman on Republicans: They were ‘lying about health care all along’ now ‘unable to govern’

by Walter Einenkel – It is a clearly untenable position that the Republican Party finds itself in with the recent release of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal bill. The bill is such a transparent cynical-catastrophe. This is something that is self-evident to most every American, but alas, there’s at least 34 percent of the population that thinks Donald Trump isn’t a complete failure of a human being. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote a scathing op-ed in Monday’s New York Times that explains how “Trapped by Their Own Lies,” the Republican Party is at this moment in history. He begins by wondering aloud how, after Sen. John McCain’s famous “no,” the Republican Party finds itself once again trying to push through a clearly craven, universally derided healthcare bill, that cannot be defended with any level of merit. Krugman explains that when your political party makes its entire platform about saying things with zero actionable policy ideas—to achieve political...

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Last-Ditch Effort By Republicans to Replace ACA: What You Need to Know

by Julie Rovner – Here are five things to know about the latest GOP bill. Republican efforts in Congress to “repeal and replace” the federal Affordable Care Act are back from the dead. Again. While the chances for this last-ditch measure appear iffy, many GOP senators are rallying around a proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), along with Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) They are racing the clock to round up the needed 50 votes — and there are 52 Senate Republicans. An earlier attempt to replace the ACA this summer fell just one vote short when Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John McCain (R-AZ) voted against it. The latest push is setting off a massive guessing game on Capitol Hill about where the GOP can pick up the needed vote. After Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year,...

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Philly CEO: Companies Shouldn’t Stay in Business if They Can’t Afford to Pay Workers Living Wages

by wagatwe – The current federal minimum wage, which is a paltry $7.25, is way too low. It’s virtually impossible to live on such low wages. For most full-time minimum-wage workers, affording a two-bedroom apartment is out of reach; finding an affordable one-bedroom is only possible in 12 counties nationwide. That’s why Todd Carmichael, the CEO and co-founder of La Colombe coffee roasters and cafés, wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer in support of the Raise the Wage Act. The bill would immediately increase the federal hourly minimum wage to $9.25 and eventually to $15 by 2024. Common arguments against a higher minimum wage include claims that it would hurt businesses, but Carmichael uses his experience as a successful business owner to argue that companies that can’t afford to pay employees living wages shouldn’t be in business (emphasis mine). I am living, breathing, profitable proof that raising the minimum wage is good for business and workers. Our workforce, profitable companies, and...

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Why Are Drug Prices So High? We’re Curious, Too

by Katie Thomas, The New York Times and Charles Ornstein, ProPublica – The New York Times and ProPublica have teamed up to investigate who is to blame for skyrocketing drug prices — and have turned up some surprising answers. This much is clear: The public is angry about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. Surveys have shown that high drug prices rank near the top of consumers’ health care concerns. What’s not as clear is exactly why prices have been rising, and who is to blame. For the last four months, The New York Times and ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization, have teamed up to answer these questions, and to shed light on the games that are being played to keep prices high, often without consumers’ knowledge or consent. Katie reports from the health desk at The Times, and Charles is a senior reporter at ProPublica. Our reporting journey has turned up some counterintuitive stories,...

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Report: Every State Will Lose Funding Under GOP’s New Repeal-and-Replace Bill

by Addy Baird – The latest effort to repeal and replace the ACA could mean states lose $4 trillion over the next 20 years. The latest attempt by Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, spearheaded by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), would reduce federal funding to states by $215 billion over ten years, ultimately decreasing funding for all states, according to an analysis released Wednesday. The bill has the support of President Donald Trump, who has consistently pushed for Republicans to repeal and replace the ACA after repeated failures to do so in recent months. “I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to...

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Trump’s Tax Plan Is Indefensible

by Ken Morris, Truthout | Op-Ed – When President Trump agreed with Democrats on a debt limit increase, there began talk about a new era of cooperation. For those foolish enough to fall for such claptrap, just wait until the tax reform train comes barreling in later this year. And make no mistake, Trump and the GOP have made it clear (for decades) that “reform” really means cuts for the wealthy. When it comes to making the super-rich super-richer, there is no negotiation. And who exactly is advocating massive reduction in top-end marginal tax rates (MTR), a policy with dubious and arguably non-existent benefits? As for Trump, after years of attacking China over currency manipulation, early in his presidency he reportedly asked National Security Adviser Mike Flynn about the economic impact of a strong US dollar. Soon-to-be-fired Ex-General Flynn had no answer since, like Trump, he has no understanding of...

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Trump Aide Reportedly Suppressed Study Proving Refugees Contributed $63 Billion More Than They Cost

by Jen Hayden – Stephen Miller, Trump’s top white nationalist advisor in the White House, reportedly rejected a study proving refugees contribute significantly more to U.S. revenue than they cost. From the New York Times: Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost. The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to...

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Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about the Trump-Republican Tax Plan

by Robert Reich – Have you noticed that there’s no Trump tax plan and no Republican tax plan? All they’ve come up with so far is a bunch of platitudes about how nice it would be to cut taxes, simplify the tax code, and spur economic growth. Who doesn’t support these nice goals? The reason there’s no tax plan is congressional Republicans are hopelessly divided on it. Right-wing Republicans (the “Freedom Caucus” along with what’s left of the Tea Party) are most interested in reducing the size of the government and shrinking the federal deficit and debt. Corporate and Wall Street Republicans – along with Donald Trump – are most interested in cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They have the backing the GOP’s big business donors who stand to make a bundle off tax cuts. Here’s the problem. You can’t have a giant tax cut for corporations and the wealthy,...

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Last-ditch Republican Health Care Effort Could Reduce Federal Funding by Nearly $300 Billion

by E.A. Crunden – Graham-Cassidy could be even more damaging than repealing Obamacare without a replacement, a new study says. A bill proposed by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Lindsey Graham (SC) would dramatically reduce federal funding for health care over the course of the next decade, according to a new report. Released Wednesday, the Graham-Cassidy bill is seemingly the last viable option for Republicans hoping to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, this year. The bill faces a steep — and likely doomed — battle in Congress: it has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or be cleared by the Senate parliamentarian, and several lawmakers have indicated they will push to hold hearings before they vote. But should the bill survive, experts are sounding the alarm about its likely impact — and the picture is a grim one. Under the bill, federal health care funds would decrease by $299...

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‘I’ll Tell You One Goddamned Thing for Sure. I’m Not Staying at a Motel 6 From Now On.’

by Katherine Mangu-Ward – Is the discount hotel chain ratting out undocumented immigrants to ICE? Are two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix routinely sending in leads to immigration agents when they suspect guests of being undocumented? While an investigation by the Phoenix New Times was unable to get confirmation from Motel 6 headquarters, employees at the motels in question said that collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is standard practice: “We send a report every morning to ICE—all the names of everybody that comes in,” a front-desk clerk told the New Times. “Every morning at about 5 o’clock, we do the audit and we push a button and it sends it to ICE.” What’s more, court documents show that “between February and August, ICE agents made at least 20 arrests at Motel 6s, showing up roughly every two weeks” while there was a distinct lack of “records indicating that ICE conducted arrests at other...

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Republican Civil War Infecting Tax Cut Efforts

by Joan McCarter – While popular vote loser Donald Trump keeps insisting that the “approval process for the biggest Tax Cut & Tax Reform package in the history of our country will soon begin,” the process is stumbling because of Republican infighting, whether between the White House and Congress or within Congress. Start with conservative Republicans’ suspicions that the two top White House negotiators—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn—are actually Democrats, or at least enablers of the enemy. Case in point: Virginia Republican Dave Brat, who said Tuesday “there better not be a curveball coming up” when asked about Cohn’s and Mnuchin’s work on tax reform. While he says the two men are currently touting conservative ideas he could rally behind, he warned them against turning to Democrats.“We don’t want our president and his administration moving all over the place away from Republican principles,” Brat added. “Mnuchin did...

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House Passes Spending Bill ‘full of giveaways to polluters’ and Big Cuts to EPA and NPS

by Samantha Page – The National Park Service was cut 30 percent — even more than Trump had asked. The House of Representatives voted Thursday in favor of an omnibus spending bill that environmental organizations say will help polluters and reduce the country’s air and water quality. The bill also cuts a number of programs intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or streamline the transition to clean energy. The bill cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by more than $500 million — another blow to an agency that will now have to operate on less than 75 percent of its 2010 funding levels. The National Park Service received a 30 percent cut — a greater cut than even the White House suggested earlier this year in its infamously skeletal budget proposal. Prior to the vote, a group of dozens of environmental groups wrote to representatives, begging them not to...

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Walker and Trump’s Foxconn Deal May Be Worst in American History

by Robert Kraig – Governor Scott Walker and Donald Trump claim their $3 billion subsidy to Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn will create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin. But when you dig into the numbers, the Foxconn deal looks like one of the biggest swindles in American history, a scandal waiting to happen. While it is Governor Walker and not Trump who is really cutting this deal, it sets a dangerous precedent, which could affect every state. To understand how big the threat is, it is important to understand just how bad the Foxconn deal really is, and to look closely at what they’re proposing. The magnitude of the public expenditure is stunning. It is not really a tax break, but a direct public subsidy of $3 billion dollars. Bribing big companies to stay or leave, and therefore allowing profitable corporations to exact public resources while shifting costs onto everyone else,...

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Should Utilities Build Charging Stations for Electric Cars?

by Martha T. Moore – Faced with deadlines to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, states are being asked to decide whether utility companies can build electric vehicle charging stations — and pass on the cost to their customers. Building more charging stations could help alleviate “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of charge with no station in sight, and therefore stimulate sales of the clean-air-friendly cars. But in some states, officials say that letting the utility industry build more stations would force all electricity consumers to pay for a service that only a few, relatively affluent, people will use. In California, home to nearly half the electric vehicles (EVs) now on U.S. roads, the Public Utilities Commission last year approved plans for three of the state’s largest utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — to...

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Americans are Buying Fewer Guns, and the NRA is Getting Desperate to Change That

by Melanie Schmitz – The organization has conjured up threats from leftist groups to justify its rhetoric. A report by the Guardian on Friday showed a $100 million drop in firearm revenue for one of the country’s biggest gun makers, American Outdoor Brands, previously known as Smith & Wesson. Specifically, the company reported an overall drop of 40 percent in general revenue from the same quarter last year, CFO Jeff Buchanan said in an earnings call. The company also experienced a 57 percent drop in long gun shipments; handgun shipments were down some 35 percent. Given that gun sales tend to drop under Republican administrations, the decline wasn’t entirely unprecedented. Typically, gun manufacturers tend to see higher numbers under Democratic administrations and ahead of elections like 2016, when Hillary Clinton was predicted to win. Gun advocates often believe that Democrats are more likely to come after their Second Amendment rights than their conservative counterparts, which generally...

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Unpopular, Unrealistic Policies Plague the Republican Tax Reform Battle

by Rebekah Entralgo – The GOP desperately needs a win as the president begins to reach out to congressional Democrats instead. Congressional Republicans returned to Washington from their August recess with a lot of things on their to-do list, chief among them Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and keeping the government running. But President Trump has also begun putting intense pressure on Republicans to take on tax reform. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump Republicans must start the Tax Reform/Tax Cut legislation ASAP. Don’t wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry! 8:57 AM – Sep 8, 2017 This poses a problem for Republicans, as there is currently no such tax proposal in Congress. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted Tuesday that a tax reform plan will be passed this year, despite the fact that, 10 months into the Trump administration, there exists no concrete, proposed policy. Politico reported Tuesday that congressional Republicans haven’t...

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