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GOP Sprints To Enact Tax Cuts

Republican tax bill in final sprint across finish line. NYT: “The day after suffering a political blow in the Alabama special Senate election, congressional Republicans sped forward with the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, announcing an agreement on a final bill that would cut taxes for businesses and individuals and signal the party’s first major legislative achievement since assuming political control this year. Party leaders in the House and Senate agreed in principle to bridge the yawning gaps between their competing versions of the $1.5 trillion tax bill, keeping Republicans on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk by Christmas… In the end, more of the Senate bill appeared to be included in the final version, though lawmakers continued to make significant changes from the legislation that passed either the House or the Senate. The changes included a slightly higher corporate tax rate of 21 percent, rather than the 20 percent in the legislation that passed both chambers, and a lower top individual tax rate of 37 percent for the wealthiest Americans, who currently pay 39.6 percent. But the bill will still scale back some popular tax breaks, including the state and local tax deduction and the deductibility of mortgage interest.”

Cuts For Wealthy Increase In Tax Plan

Ample tax cuts for business, wealthy in new GOP tax accord. AP: “Generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans would be delivered in a sweeping overhaul of the tax laws, under a new agreement crafted by Republicans in Congress. Middle- and low-income families would receive smaller tax cuts, though President Donald Trump and Republican leaders have billed the package as a huge benefit for the middle class. The agreement reached Wednesday by House and Senate GOP leaders also calls for scrapping a major tax requirement of the “Obamacare” health law, a step toward the ultimate GOP goal of unraveling the law. The agreement combines key elements of separate tax bills recently passed by the House and Senate, striking compromises on some of them. The Republicans are pushing to deliver final legislation to Trump before Christmas as the first major legislative accomplishment of his presidency… The legislation, still being finalized, would cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest earners — Trump among them — from 39.6% to 37%, slash the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% and allow homeowners to deduct interest only on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage.”

FCC Set To Repeal Net Neutrality

FCC set to repeal ‘Net Neutrality’ rules for internet providers. NPR: “After weeks of heated controversy and protests, U.S. telecom regulators are slated to repeal so-called net neutrality rules, which restrict the power of Internet service providers to influence loading speeds for specific websites or apps. The Republican majority of the Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote along party lines on Thursday to loosen Obama-era regulations for Internet providers. The rules, put in place in 2015, ban cable and telecom companies from blocking or slowing down any websites or apps. They also prohibit broadband providers from striking special deals that would give some websites or apps “priority” over others.”

Fed Raises Interest Rates

Fed raises rates, lowers expectations of economic growth from tax cut. NYT: “The Federal Reserve, buoyed by a steadily strengthening economy, raised interest rates on Wednesday for a fifth time since the financial crisis and predicted that a proposed tax cut moving through Congress would modestly increase economic growth for the next few years without stoking inflation. As a result, the Fed said it did not expect the legislation, which President Trump has called “rocket fuel” for the economy, to accelerate the Fed’s plans to raise interest rates in 2018 and indicated it remains on track for three rate increases next year. The Fed’s highly anticipated economic assessment, delivered after a two-day meeting of its policymaking committee, amounted to a lukewarm endorsement of the Trump administration’s top economic priority. Mr. Trump has suggested that the $1.5 trillion tax cut could nearly double economic growth to as much as 6 percent, a level far greater than most economists think likely.”

Dodd-Frank Rollback Not A Done Deal

Bill to ease Dodd-Frank rules gets chilly reception in House. The Hill: “Bipartisan legislation in the Senate to roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law is running into trouble in the House. The Senate Banking Committee last week advanced a bill that would scale back Dodd-Frank rules for small and mid-sized banks. Sponsored by Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the legislation has enough support among Democrats to avoid a filibuster. That’s largely because it focuses on scaling back federal oversight of banks without touching other portions of Dodd-Frank that Democrats are determined to protect. But House Republicans pursuing a rival regulatory overhaul have given the bill a chilly reception, saying it doesn’t include the transformative changes needed for Dodd-Frank and the agency it created, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)… Republicans struggled for years under former President Obama to amend Dodd-Frank, which was passed in 2010 to ramp up rules and oversight of the U.S. financial system after the 2007 crisis. Democrats have fiercely defended Dodd-Frank’s new requirements for major banks and financial firms, saying the rules were necessary to prevent another economic catastrophe. Republicans insist the law went too far, hindering economic growth and lending in the midst of a recession.”

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