Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

GOP Fraud: “It’ll Pay for Itself”

GOP Fraud: “It’ll Pay for Itself”
Art of GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan by DonkeyHote/Flickr

Remember the Republicans’ claim that their tax scam slashing rates for the rich and corporations would magically pay for itself?

Here is how that works: a rich guy walks into a Mercedes-Benz dealership, gets behind the wheel of a $112,400 GP Coupe, and drives away yelling to the salesman, “Don’t worry. It’ll pay for itself.”

It’s nothing but a fraud.

Well, that’s what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said this week, anyway. Without blatantly labeling the GOP tax cut as a con, the CBO did say that it would in no way, not ever pay for itself. It would, the CBO warned, dramatically raise the national budget deficit, year after year, for at least a decade.

Republicans, the party of public hand wringing over deficits, deliberately created this gob-smackingly huge one. Privately, Republicans are the party of glee over deficits. That’s because they use them as an excuse to slash and burn programs cherished by the vast majority of Americans such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yes, Grandma, that tax cut Republicans gave to fat cats means you’ll be eating cat food.

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The Real Deal on Trump’s Trade Tantrums

Robert Borosage

Robert Borosage Co-Director, Campaign for America's Future

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” tweeted Donald Trump when he threatened to slap tariffs on China and other nations he accused of “assaulting our country” last month.

Stock traders were spooked as China promised to retaliate. Commentators across the political spectrum warned of job losses, price increases, economic peril, and trade wars.

Progressives like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren showed more sense, praising Trump for challenging China’s mercantilist policies, as did Conor Lamb, the surprise Democratic victor in the House special election in Pennsylvania.

Just because Trump denounces our “lousy trade deals” doesn’t mean Democrats have to defend them.

In fact, a majority of House Democrats has led the opposition to our corporate trade policies. Democrats torpedoed Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership, long before Trump became president. They’ve demanded the renegotiation of NAFTA, and the Korean Free Trade Accord.

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400,000 Virginia residents edge closer to Medicaid expansion after key Republican splits with party

Amanda Michelle Gomez

Amanda Michelle Gomez Health Reporter, Think Progress

Virginia is inching closer to providing health care to 400,000 low-income residents after a key state Republican signaled this week that he was willing to split with his party and support Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

Virginia is among 18 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaving roughly 400,000 in a “coverage gap” — meaning, they’re uninsured because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little for subsidized private insurance. But this year, the state legislature could change that, thus fulfilling a goal Democrats have been trying to accomplish for years.

Democrats need two Republicans in the state Senate to pass Medicaid expansion as part of the main budget — Republicans control 21 seats and Democrats 19 — and on Friday, state Sen. Frank Wagner (R) joined state Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R) in saying that he was willing to support expansion on certain conditions.

Wagner wants, for example, to condition Medicaid eligibility on work and provide a more generous tax credit for those who buy insurance on Healthcare.gov. Hanger, on the other hand, wants to eliminate a hospital “bed tax,” which would be used to pay for the expansion.

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Corporations, not workers, are receiving the greatest benefits from GOP tax bill

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Four months after Republicans in Congress passed the largest tax code overhaul in three decades, American corporations have gotten a huge tax cut.

New analysis from Americans for Tax Fairness, however, suggests these corporations aren’t using their recently freed up cash to help middle class workers like the administration said it would — more than 84 times.

The organization analyzed corporate data from primarily Fortune 500 companies, whose revenues are two-thirds of the entire gross domestic product (GDP), in addition to news reports and independent analyses of top U.S. companies. What they found was that these powerful corporations have spent a total of roughly $238,244,348,330 in stock buybacks since December 20, 2017 when the tax bill passed.

Working class Americans won’t see a penny of that.

Stock buybacks help those who own corporate stock, which typically means the already-rich. The wealthiest 10 percent of American households own 84 percent of all shares, while the top 1 percent own 40 percen. Roughly one-half of American households don’t own stock at all.

According to the data, few corporations have decided to use the savings from the tax bill to benefit their workers directly. Out of the over 1,500 companies from which Americans for Tax Fairness collected data, just 359 of them actually promised to increase wages for their employees. Of those that have, the majority only offered a bump of $15 an hour in entry-level pay — which, by all accounts, should already be what companies pay entry-level employees in a tightening labor market.

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Unions, CBO’s new baseline, the Bernstein Rule

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The teachers provide us with a teaching moment, over at WaPo. Their actions pose a stark reminder of the essential need for a strong, organized movement to push back on the forces promoting inequality, non-representative government, trickle down tax policy, and more.

CBO released their updated “baseline,” or estimate of the US gov’t’s fiscal outlook. If you like red ink, you’re in biz. Instead of deficits between 3 and 4% of GDP over the next few years, we’re looking at deficits of 4-5%.

As I’ve written in many places, when you’re closing in on full employment, you want your deficit/GDP to come down and your debt/GDP to stabilize and then fall. It’s not that I worry about “crowd out” so much–public borrowing hasn’t crowded out private borrowing for a long time, as evidenced by low, stable interest rates (rates are climbing off the mat a bit now, as I’d expect at this stage of the expansion).

It’s a) there’s a recession out there somewhere are we lack the perceived fiscal space to deal with it, and b) the larger point that this is all part and parcel of the strategy to starve the Treasury of revenues so as to force entitlement cuts.

Which brings me to this oped by a group of former Democratic chairs of the president’s CEA. It’s a perfectly reasonable call for a balanced approach to meeting our fiscal challenges, and, again, consistent with my view that as we close in on full employment, the deficit should move toward primary balance (another way of saying debt/GDP stabilization).

But two things from this piece, which is a critical response to an earlier oped by a “group of distinguished economists from the Hoover Institution.”

First, I didn’t realize that the Hoover’ites argued that the “entitlements are the sole cause of the problem, while the budget-busting tax bill that was passed last year is described as a ‘good first step.’”

This puts them in direct violation of the Bernstein Rule: if you supported the tax cut, you can’t complain about the deficit.

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Union Matters

Stay out of the TPP

From the AFL-CIO

Working people want to move forward on trade, not backward. President Donald Trump’s reported interest in reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the wrong idea. He should focus on upgrading the protections for worker freedoms in the ongoing negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Three years ago, a united movement of working people rose in opposition to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, upsetting the conventional wisdom and changing the course of American trade policy.

Our opposition had nothing to do with political parties. It was a grassroots groundswell, and it came after years in which trade experts from the AFL-CIO and our member unions offered feedback, detailed testimony and policy language to the trade negotiators, who simply allowed corporations to have too much control over the proposed deal.

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Tax Day Fact

Tax Day Fact