Unions Urge Action to Stop GOP Tax Scam

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Communications Workers President Chris Shelton warned workers and their allies to act now against a planned Republican tax hike on the middle class.

“You may hear from Trump that it’s ‘tax reform.’ I want to caution you: That’s the usual bullshit,” the blunt former telephone lineman told union activists in an Oct. 26 conference call.

“What is being proposed is a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires,” Shelton said. “Donald Trump and the GOP leadership want to get this massive giveaway to their Wall Street friends through by the end of the year.

“This is another phase in the ongoing fight for decades to shift more and more of the wealth to the elites and away from the rest of us.”

Labor must mobilize through protests, call-ins swamping lawmakers’ switchboards, constant visits to congressional offices and educating the public on the real impact of the tax cut, Shelton said. His union is already preparing materials to educate voters about how it would hurt them.

Congress’ GOP leaders plan to roll out a tax legislation on Nov. 1 that would cost $1.5 trillion over a decade. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., aims to pass it by Thanksgiving.

The tax bill would cut top tax rates for the rich, but raise tax rates – from 10 percent to 12 percent – for those who earn the least. And it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation calculated that 80 percent of the benefits would go to the richest 1 percent.

The claims that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to the rest is “clearly wrong,” said Economic Policy Institute analyst Josh Bivens. 

“Economic logic and evidence argues strongly that American workers should not expect any noticeable wage boost from cutting corporate income taxes,” he said.

To grease the skids for the tax plan, Ryan shoved a House-Senate budget blueprint agreement through by a 216-212 vote the night of Oct. 26, with 20 Republicans defecting because the pact would let the tax bill hit their constituents hard.

The budget agreement would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shove the tax cut through the upper chamber by “reconciliation” with only 50 GOP votes, plus Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker.

Twelve House GOP “no’s” came from lawmakers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, whose constituents would get socked by the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction. Every Republican from California and Illinois, whose constituents would also get hurt, voted for the budget blueprint. All Democrats opposed it.

Trump’s claim the tax cut would help the middle class “is the biggest lie I’ve seen in my five years in Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a Painter, who joined Shelton on the conference call. If Trump’s tax cut is approved, millionaires “are likely to be paying less” as a share of their income “than the average family,” he said.

Shelton warned that Ryan and the Republicans would cut Medicaid and Medicare to make up for part of the massive deficit their tax cut would create.

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work