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

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

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