Thursday, December 7, 2017

From CBPP: Will House-Senate Conference Tilt Tax Bill Ever More Against Working Families?

DECEMBER 5, 2017 AT 10:45 AM
Low- and moderate-income working families are largely an afterthought in the House- and Senate-passed tax bills, which are heavily tilted to wealthy households and profitable corporations and add significantly to budget deficits. Addressing these fundamental flaws would effectively require the House-Senate conference committee that will iron out differences between the bills to start over and rethink the Republican approach to tax reform to this point. Since Republican leaders won’t do that, a key issue to watch is how the bill they produce complies — at least on paper — with the Senate rule requiring that the legislation can’t add to budget deficits after the first decade.
While the House didn’t try to comply with this rule, the Senate met it while making its corporate tax cuts permanent by: (1) sunsetting the tax cuts for individuals after 2025 while leaving in place various revenue-raising measures for individuals, which means that many low- and middle-income households will ultimately face tax increases; and (2) increasing the number of uninsured Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate, which requires that most people get health coverage or pay a penalty. In other words, the Senate put the interests of corporate shareholders and other wealthy investors ahead of working families, raising taxes on millions of non-affluent Americans and leaving millions to become uninsured to finance permanent corporate tax cuts. As a matter of basic decency, policymakers should reject such an approach.
To advance their tax bill, congressional Republicans used a special legislative process known as “reconciliation” that enables a bill to pass the Senate with a bare majority, rather than the 60 votes that most legislation requires, so Republicans didn’t need a single Democratic vote. And, while GOP leaders initially promised to develop revenue-neutral tax legislation, they soon reversed course and passed a budget plan allowing tax cuts that would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to deficits over the next ten years.
They then faced the Senate’s so-called “Byrd rule,” which is designed to prevent Congress from using the reconciliation process to increase long-term budget deficits. Under this rule, a reconciliation bill can’t lose money in the years after the first decade. To comply with it, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on many working and middle-class families and leave 13 million people uninsured to find the funds to make permanent a big corporate tax cut and a tax exemption for multinationals’ foreign profits. Here’s what the bill does in these areas:
Permanent tax cuts for corporations. The Senate bill slashes the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 and sets an even lower rate for U.S.-based multinationals’ foreign profits by adopting a “territorial” tax system, which would encourage firms to shift profits and investment offshore. As Senate Republican Ron Johnson said, “With a territorial system, there will be a real incentive to keep manufacturing overseas.” Yet Senate Republican leaders made this tax advantage for foreign profits a top priority.

Permanent tax increase for middle- and lower-income households. In revising their bill, Senate Republican leaders set all of its tax cuts for individuals to expire after 2025, as well as all of its revenue-raising measures affecting the individual income tax except one: a slower inflation measure (the chained Consumer Price Index) for adjusting tax brackets and certain tax provisions each year. This permanent change would push many taxpayers, including many middle-income taxpayers, into higher tax brackets over time.
The resulting tax increases would grow each year. By 2027, the Joint Tax Committee estimated:
  • 37.8 million households with incomes below $200,000 would face tax increases, including 8.9 million facing increases of more than $500 apiece.
  • 112.0 million households with incomes below $200,000 would face tax changes of less than $100 apiece.

Millions more uninsured and higher premiums in the individual market. The Senate bill would repeal the ACA’s individual mandate. This would raise the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million by 2027 and raise premiums in the individual market by an average of 10 percent, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimatesBecause fewer people would be insured, the CBO estimates show, federal spending for Medicaid and for federal tax credits that help low- and moderate-income Americans pay their health insurance premiums would fall by $53 billion in 2027 alone. The bill uses those savings after 2027 to help finance its permanent corporate rate cuts.

Overall, in 2027 — when only the corporate tax cuts, the slower inflation measure, and the mandate repeal would remain in place — the Senate bill would raise taxes or reduce spending for households with incomes below $75,000 by about $60 billion, while still giving very large tax cuts — through its corporate tax cuts — to those at the top, the group that owns the bulk of corporate shares and hence benefits the most from corporate tax relief. (See chart.)

 JCT and CBO: Senate Tax Bill Cuts Spending, Raises Taxes for Lower-Income Households to Help Pay for Tax Cuts
While the House tax bill ignores the Senate rule that bars reconciliation bills from increasing budget deficits after the first decade (and, consequently, made all its provisions permanent), the bill that emerges from the conference committee will have to comply with the rule. In meeting it, conferees should reject the Senate approach of making working- and middle-class families pay for a permanent corporate rate cut and an even lower tax rate for U.S. multinationals’ foreign profits. They should not produce a bill that cuts taxes for big corporations by making working families worse off.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

From Prosperity Now: Call Your Representative to Oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Don't be fooled by the so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: these tax cuts will do nothing for the working families who need the most help. Instead, it will supercharge wealth inequality and widen the racial wealth divide. Here's why:

  • Tax cuts for the wealthy don't pay for themselves. Lower Taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans will be paid by working families in the form of cuts to programs they rely on.
  • The plan's largest income boosts will go to millionaires, while providing nothing to help low-income people build wealth.
  • The plan will require taxpayers to provide a social security number to claim the full value of tax credits they rely on now. In other words, hard working immigrant taxpayers get to join low-income people among the ranks of those excluded from the chance to get ahead.
While they decide whether to support this plan for "tax reform," members of Congress need to hear from you today...before they hear from the lobbyists and special interests that stand to benefit at the expense of working families.

Thank you for using your voice to stand up for what's right: the chance for everyone in our country to thrive.

Questions? Need help taking action? Contact Vanna Cure.

From the ND AFL-CIO: Labor News - November 6th, 2017

Heitkamp launches website to help N. Dakotans with health insurance

BISMARCK -- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) launched a website this week with resources for North Dakotans to learn about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and options people may have to get covered under the federal marketplace exchange.
Open enrollment started Wednesday, Nov. 1 and will last through Friday, Dec. 15.

Get Health Care Coverage for 2018

Open Enrollment is the annual period when you can shop for insurance through the health insurance marketplaces and either renew your old plan or sign up for a new one. Eight out of 10 people are eligible for premiums under $75 thanks to financial assistance offered through the Affordable Care Act. Most people who miss the Open Enrollment period will be without health insurance in 2018.

The Top Reasons Why the Republican Tax Bill is Bad for Working People

Working people have forced the House GOP to stall the release of a bad and unpopular plan to slash taxes for the rich by cutting services and tax breaks for working families. America’s labor movement will fight every attempt by Donald Trump to give preference to millionaires and billionaires and hand working people the tab. Here are the top ways the Republican tax bill will hurt working people:

Fearing they were being replaced, several employees of Grand Forks Taco Bell walk off job, forcing closure

The Grand Forks Taco Bell was closed Friday after several employees walked off the job thinking they were being replaced, but the fast food chain said it never intended to fire anyone.
The restaurant at 1301 S. Washington St. was closed early Friday, with its lights shut off and doors locked. Taco Bell employee Mark Dunham said he was told the store would be closed that day because half of the eatery's employees quit.

Cramer: Trump is encouraging me to run against Heitkamp

WASHINGTON—Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., says he received a phone call from President Donald Trump encouraging him to run against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., whom the president has called a "good woman."
Cramer said he received the call from Trump within the past week. "He strongly encouraged me to run," Cramer told The Hill, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill in Washington. Cramer said he would wait until tax reform, a major Republican legislative priority, is addressed before making his decision.

American Corporations Tell IRS that 61 Percent of Their Offshore Profits Are in 10 Tax Havens

Recent revelations that a Bermuda law firm helped facilitate offshore tax avoidance has heightened awareness of the vast amount of income and wealth flowing into tax and secrecy havens worldwide. The countries through which this firm helped funnel global elites’ assets also act as tax havens for multinational corporations. Recently released data from the Internal Revenue Service show that U.S. corporations claim that 61 percent of their foreign subsidiaries’ pretax worldwide income is being earned in 10 tiny tax haven countries.

From ITEP: How the House Tax Proposal Would Affect North Dakota Residents' Federal Taxes

From the Institue on Taxation and Economic Policy:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was introduced on November 2 in the House of Representatives, includes provisions that raise taxes and some that cut taxes, so the net effect for any particular family's tax bill depends on their situation. Some of the provisions that benefit the middle class - like lower tax rates, an increased standard deduction, and a $300 tax credit for each adult in a household - are designed to expire or become less generous over time. Some of the provisions that benefit the wealthy, such as the reduction and eventual repeal of the estate tax, become more generous over time. The result is that by 20207, the benefits of the House bill become increasingly generous for the richest one percent compared to other income groups. See below for how the bill would affect North Dakota residents' federal taxes and read our full report on the bill here.

Please take a moment to tell Representative Cramer to oppose H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by clicking on this link: https://prosperitynow.quorum.us/campaign/5530/. The link will take you to an automated system at Prosperity Now that will enable you to quickly send your email. 

The graphs below illustrate how the bill would affect taxpayers in North Dakota in four ways:

  1. The share of tax cuts in North Dakota going to each income group in 2018 and 2027.
  2. The average tax cut for each income group in those years, in dollar amounts.
  3. The average tax cut for each income group in those years as a share of income.
  4. The fraction of taxpayers in North Dakota who would pay higher taxes under the bill. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

From Public News Service: Can ND Level the Playing Field for Children of Color?

Can ND Level the Playing Field for Children of Color?

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October 24, 2017 - Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service (ND)
xperts in child well-being say education is key to level the playing
Experts in child well-being say education is key to level the playing field for children of color. (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture/Flickr)
BISMARCK, N.D. – A new report reveals the persistent disparities for children of color and those in immigrant families, in North Dakota and across the country.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 Race for Results report measures key milestones in child development across racial and ethnic groups. It says in North Dakota, inequality looms large for Native American families.

Karen Olson, program director North Dakota Kids Count says gaps for children of color stem mainly from poverty, which can mean a childhood of traumatic experiences that cause toxic stress...

"That affects children's health, brain development, and social and emotional well-being," she explains. "So, I think it's important that we implement culturally relevant and appropriate education practices, services to help end that cycle of trauma."

Olson says disparities for children of color decreased across the board from the 2014 Race for Results report due in large part to greater opportunities, and greater attainment, in education. She also notes an effective program known as "Sources to Strength" that is working to prevent suicide among Native American kids and teens.

Laura Speer is the associate director of policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation. She says kids are the future parents, workers and leaders of the United States - and if they're given the opportunity to fully participate in society, the country will benefit.

"As they get older, these kids are going to drive local and state economies," she notes. "They're going to contribute to their communities, and they're really going be the driving force in ensuring that we're all better off in the long run."

Speer encourages lawmakers to level the playing field for all kids. The report says programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, tax credits, housing and childcare make a big difference in parents' ability to support their children.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NDESPA Letter to Senator Heitkamp re: 2018 Senate Budget Resolution

October 18, 2017

Senator Heidi Heitkamp
SH-516 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Heitkamp,

We, the undersigned organizations representing service providers, charitable organizations, and nonprofit organizations in North Dakota, write to express our deep concern about the Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution and the tax bill it would put in motion. We urge you to oppose the resolution and stand against any plan with tax cuts for the wealthy and profitable corporations that would force cuts to programs that help everyday Americans make ends meet and get ahead.

The FY18 budget resolution passed by the Senate Budget Committee on October 5 instructs the Finance Committee to draft a reconciliation bill with tax cuts that can add up to $1.5 trillion to deficits over ten years. A deficit-increasing tax bill would drive up the national debt, worsen the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook, and create pressure for steep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP and a broad range of core public investments that support a strong and growing middle class and help families afford the basics. According to the “Big Six” framework unveiled on September 27—which Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has said will be the base for the eventual tax bill—these tax cuts would be vastly tilted to the wealthy and profitable corporations, with low- and middle-income families largely an afterthought. The nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy projects that just 8.5 percent of the tax cuts will go to North Dakotans making less than $75,600 in 2018. That amounts to an average tax cut of just $340 for 60percent of North Dakota households, which is equivalent to about $28 each month.

When examined more in depth, the picture painted for the lowest 60percent of North Dakota’s earners is even more grim.
·       For the top earning of the 60 percent earning an average of $58,600 a year, the tax cut would amount to an average of $570, or $47.50 a month.
·       For the second lowest 20%, those earning an average of $33,400 a year, the tax cut would average $290 a year, or $24 a month.
·       For those in the bottom 20%, earning an average of $16,700 a year, the tax cut would provide them an average of $140 a year, or just over $11.50 a month.

In contrast, millionaires in our state, earning an average of $1,714,800 a year, would reap a financial windfall, receiving 55.8% of the tax cuts going to North Dakota residents with an average tax cut of $118, 230, or $9,852.50 a month.

Moreover, because the budget resolution instructs the Finance Committee to make changes to deficits (not just revenues), the resolution allows any tax cuts beyond $1.5 trillion to be offset by cuts to programs like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP and Supplemental Security Income for poor seniors and people with disabilities. This means that everyday Americans are likely to end up footing the bill for these tax cuts in two ways: through immediate spending cuts included in the same reconciliation bill that is expected to cut taxes largely for the wealthy and profitable corporations, and when rising deficits force cuts to health care, education, scientific research, infrastructure, and more.

We strongly disagree with this approach. Tax cuts should be paid for by closing tax loopholes and/or making other responsible tax changes, not by adding to deficits or cutting effective federal programs and investments. In addition, tax policies should invest in working families, instead of prioritizing the wealthy and profitable corporations.

North Dakota workers and families deserve a tax bill that will improve their lives, not make things harder. For all of these reasons, we urge you to oppose the FY18 budget resolution and the emerging tax plan that the resolution’s reconciliation instructions would set off on a partisan filibuster-proof process.

Thank you for your consideration.


The North Dakota Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance
1003 E. Interstate Ave.
Suite 7
Bismarck, ND 58503

CAWS North Dakota
North Dakota Disabilities Advocacy Consortium
North Dakota Head Start Association
American Association of University Women in North Dakota
North Dakota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
Mental Health America of North Dakota
Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota
North Dakota Human Rights Coalition
ND United
Charles Hall Youth Services
Tobacco Free North Dakota
Lutheran Social Services
North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People
Sacred Pipe Resource Center
Native American Development Center
Designer Genes of North Dakota
North Dakota Farmers Union

High Plains Fair Housing Center