Progressive Breakfast for December 18

Morning Message

The Grand Tax ‘Bargain’ Is Just a Bigger Bonus for the Rich

The GOP's House and Senate conferees, everyone imagined, would make a compromise on tax cuts that fell somewhere between their plans. They did no such thing. They simply found a way to give even more to America’s super-rich. Don’t you wish you could benefit from “compromises” like that? In the House-Senate conference committee tax plan, you — if you happen to reside in the 99 percent — most certainly do not. We need to start over on a new tax package, one that could honestly be called reform. Even better, how about an end to plutocracy?

GOP Scrambles To Pass Tax Cuts, Avoid Shutdown

GOP faces 5-day scramble to pass tax bill, avoid government shutdown. WaPo: “Republicans return to Congress on Monday facing a packed agenda with little time to enact it, as party leaders aim to quickly pass their massive tax plan and then cut a budget deal with Democrats before the end of Friday to avert a government shutdown… GOP leaders hope to hold tax votes early in the week before moving to the budget bill. They need Democrats’ help to pass the budget measure through the Senate, and thus far they have made little progress bringing them aboard amid disagreements over spending levels, protection from deportation for certain undocumented immigrants and a federal health insurance program for low-income children.”

Trump’s Three Biggest Tax Lies

Robert Reich on three biggest lies about Trump’s tax plan. Newsweek: “Here are the three main Republican arguments in favor of the Republican tax plan, followed by the truth. 1. It will make American corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate. Rubbish… 2. With the tax cut, big corporations and the rich will invest and create more jobs Baloney… 3. It will give small businesses an incentive to invest and create more jobs. Untrue. Don’t let your Uncle Bob be fooled: Republicans are voting for this because their wealthy patrons demand it. Their tax plan will weaken our economy for years – reducing demand, widening inequality, and increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Shame on the greedy Republican backers who have engineered this. Shame on Trump and the Republicans who have lied to the public about its consequences.”

Real Estate Developers Get Last-Minute Bonus In Tax Plan

Trump, real estate investors get last-minute perk in tax bill. Bloomberg “Lawmakers scrambling to lock up Republican support for the tax reform bill added a complicated provision late in the process — one that would provide a multimillion-dollar windfall to real estate investors such as President Donald Trump… The revision might also bring tax benefits to several members of Congress, according to financial disclosures they’ve filed that reflect ownership of pass-through firms with real estate holdings. One such lawmaker, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who’d voted against an earlier version of the legislation, said on Friday that he would support the revised legislation. Corker said in an interview on Saturday that his change of heart had nothing to do with the added benefit for real estate investors.”

Tax Bill Deepens Puerto Rico’s Crisis

Months after storm, Puerto Rico stares down another blow: the tax bill. NYT: “Three months after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, the sweeping federal tax overhaul that Congress plans to vote on in the next week could deliver another hit to the island’s economy, which is already crippled by a debt crisis and widespread power losses from the storm. The final legislation negotiated by the House and Senate would treat mainland companies in Puerto Rico, a United States commonwealth, as it does those in foreign countries, and impose a 12.5 percent tax on income they receive from intellectual property. The bankrupt Puerto Rican government, which lobbied intensely for special tax treatment, fears that the bill could endanger crucial industries and thousands of jobs on the island. ‘This is really a devastating blow for Puerto Rico, in our greatest time of need,’ Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló said on Friday.”

Words “Diversity,” “Science-Based” Banned By HHS

Words banned at multiple HHS agencies include ‘diversity’ and ‘vulnerable’. WaPo: “The Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of HHS, were given a list of seven prohibited words or phrases during a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget. The words to avoid: ‘vulnerable,’ ‘entitlement,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based.’ A second HHS agency received similar guidance to avoid using “entitlement,” “diversity” and “vulnerable,” according to an official who took part in a briefing earlier in the week. Participants at that agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance.”