5 Ways The Republican Tax-Reform Plan Hits Black Folks The Hardest

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/12/2017 - 5:00am in


Racism, reform, Taxes

Above Photo: House Speaker Paul Ryan (second from left) and U.S. House members gather after passing a tax reform bill Nov. 16, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images) Google is blocking our site. Please use the social media sharing buttons (upper left) to share this on your social media and help us break through. Right now, at this very moment, the single biggest threat to the group of people already in a compromised position because of their race is the congressional Republicans’ tax-reform plan. Not the sound of the police. Not lead in your water and not a jail cell. The tax-reform plan that both Congress and the White House are pushing seems obscure. It’s that thing only geeky Washington, D.C., insiders pass crush notes over, so you glance away from the television screen because it sounds irrelevant. It’s so innocuous, you ask, “What’s a tax cut got to do with me?” especially when shit is already tight. So long as you get that refund check for a down payment on that next car, you could care less. As the latest YouGov poll (pdf) shows, you are among the vast majority of Americans who hate Congress, yet you’re probably in that 46 percent who don’t follow what congressional lawmakers do, including the nearly 70 percent of whom are black. But black folks should be paying the most attention because we’ll feel the most hurt as congressional Republicans, along with an oligarchic Trump White House, try to make the plan into law (House Republicans passed their version of the bill on Thursday). Not only is black America the least likely to see a tax cut, but it’s also the most likely to see future tax increases, shredded safety nets, and a flurry of fines and fees to make up the difference. If there ever was an issue to march against, it’s the ominous specter of a trickle-down tax-reform scam that’s about to decimate an already fragile black quality of life—not the imprisonment of a probation-violating rapper who’ll end up riffing an album off your tweets. Priorities, fam, priorities. As Congress attempts to ram its tax-reform plan through to presidential signature, here are the five big ways this will screw everyone, but black folks the most: 1. Starving the Beast so It Can’t Protect You Anymore It’s the resurgence of a decades-old hat trick by conservative Republicans to use fiscal policy as a weapon for diabolical political aim. The “beast” is the federal government. This term of snarky elegance appeared during the Reagan years as neocons mandated less government spending through a reduced federal budget, thereby setting up the last big tax overhaul in 1986. As economist William Cunningham of Creative Investment Research said during an episode of WURD’s Reality Check, “This has always been about limiting the federal government’s ability to protect the most marginalized communities. The fewer resources the federal government has, the less responsive it is to the needs of the vulnerable.” This is chilling for black folks considering the historic role of federal intervention on our behalf—even, ironically, when the feds sued Donald Trump himself back in 1973 for housing discrimination. A tax-code overhaul, which complements Trump’s budget cuts (by the way), completes the erosion of everything from Medicare to Pell Grants to regular federal enforcement of civil, voting and labor rights. Much of that has accelerated in less than a year under the new sheriff. Have a problem with hate crimes or a local plant spewing toxic fumes or racist management at your workplace or the school district underfunding your kids’ school because it’s majority black and brown? Good luck with getting the feds to investigate or enforce rules because budgets will be slim. 2. Making Us Pay for Wealthy White People’s Tax Cuts Straight, no chaser: This tax-code overhaul is a sophisticated, modern plantation play. But instead of working the fields, society will permit you to sharecrop your way to the appearance of middle-class normalcy through smartphones and selfie-induced materialism while the increase on your taxes pays for the boss’s tax cut. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, “Households with annual incomes over $1 million would see their after-tax incomes increase by 3.2 percent, 16 times the percentage increase for any income group in the bottom half of the income distribution” by 2027. Those with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 would see an actual 2 percent tax increase by 2023, and “filers with incomes between $20,000 and $30,000” would see increases in 2027. Why does that matter to black folks? Our median income in 2016, according to the U.S. census, was $39,490—a drop of 4 percent since 2000 while whites, Latinos and Asians saw modest income gains. 3. The Confederacy Strikes Back: Red States Get Paid, Blue States Get Mugged The funny thing about this tax-reform bill is that it’s clearly a bloodless Confederate coup with less-populated red conservative Republican states (formerly in the Confederacy) engaging in a clever 150-years-later payback by drying up blue liberal Democratic states (formerly in the Union). Political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson put this on blast in their recent New York Times piece, arguing it’s a “Republican two-step: redistribute upward, then sideways.” The last time this happened, the authors note, was after the Civil War, when Northern Republicans (anti-slavery at the time) imposed punishing tariffs on Southern Democratic states to pay for Union veteran pensions. Today Republicans—most of whom are from those formerly Confederate, now red states—run the union, which is why it pays to know the history. And the congressional Republicans in charge are proposing the elimination of popular state and local tax deductions, a $1.3 trillion cost over 10 years that hurts blue states while the benefits get transferred to the red states. It’s comical because red states already get the most federal dollars, since they’re the poorest—and play-it-safe President Barack Obama made sure the Affordable Care Act took care of red Republican states, even while Republicans spit in his face the whole time. But that’s just because red states would rather keep their poor and black population largely...

Current Taxes And Tax Reform Undermine Social Security & Medicare

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/10/2017 - 2:00am in

Above Photo: (Photo: 401(K) 2012/Flickr) If You Want to Collect Social Security, Trump’s Tax Plan Is an Outrage You probably pay about four times more of your income to Social Security than millionaires, who want to cut their taxes and your benefits. How much did your paychecks total last year? You know the answer, of course. So does the Social Security Administration. The totals for every American’s paycheck income are sitting in Social Security’s computers. Once every year, Social Security does a serious data dump out of those computers to let us know just how much working Americans are actually making. The latest totals — covering 2016 — have just appeared. Most of us, the new numbers show, are simply not making all that much. In fact, nearly half of our nation’s employed — 49.3 percent — earned less than $30,000 in 2016. A good many of these Americans lived in poverty. In 2016, families of four that earned less than $24,339 ranked as officially poor. We don’t have an “official” figure for middle class status. But the Economic Policy Institute has calculated the costs of maintaining a no-frills middle class existence in various parts of the United States. In Houston, one of our nation’s cheaper major cities, a family of four needed $62,544 in 2016 to live a bare-bones middle class lifestyle. Nationally, according to the new Social Security payroll income numbers, over three-quarters of working Americans — 76.4 percent — took home less than $60,000 in 2016. Some Americans, on the other hand, took home a great deal more. The Social Security Administration counts 133,119 Americans who pocketed over $1 million in paycheck income last year. Now which of these two groups — the millionaires or the under-$60,000 crowd — do you think paid a greater share of its income in Social Security taxes? The millionaires could certainly afford to pay the bigger share. But they didn’t. Individuals who took home $1 million in 2016 had $16,265 deducted from their paychecks for Social Security and Medicare. Those deductions totaled a meager 1.6 percent of their paycheck income. Working Americans making $60,000 last year, by contrast, had 7.65 percent of their take-home deducted for Social Security and Medicare. In other words, Americans making $60,000 paid over four times more of their income for Social Security and Medicare than Americans who made $1 million. How could that be? Our tax code currently has a ceiling on earnings subject to the Social Security tax. That ceiling this year rests at $127,200. All paycheck income up to that level faces a 6.2 percent tax for Social Security and a 1.45 percent tax for Medicare. Income above that ceiling faces no Social Security tax at all. Until the Obama years, income above the earnings ceiling faced no payroll tax for Medicare either. But President Obama succeeded in getting that changed. Individual income over $200,000 now faces an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax. If all income over $200,000 faced a Social Security tax as well, we’d have enough new revenue to significantly improve Social Security benefits. The Trump administration is moving in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, the White House tried and failed to get the Obama Medicare tax on the rich repealed. Now the administration is pushing a tax “reform” that totally ignores the unfairness of the current Social Security payroll tax and instead hands America’s wealthiest a stunningly generous assortment of tax giveaways. If this Trump tax plan passes, Americans making $60,000 will still be paying over four times more of their income in payroll taxes than Americans who make $1 million. And America’s millionaire-packed top 1 percent will get 80 percent of the new Trump tax cuts, the Tax Policy Center calculates. The Trump tax plan, in other words, makes the U.S. tax code even more millionaire-friendly than the current code. The White House calls that “reform.” The rest of us ought to call it an outrage.

Turning Outward for Community-Wide Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 30/10/2014 - 10:46am in