Bryce Covert Archive

The U.S. Already Has a High-quality, Universal Childcare Program — in the Military

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Tech Sgt. Parker and her husband always knew they wanted to have a big family. Today, they have five children between the ages of three and 16.

Multiply five by the typical cost of daycare, and they could have been looking at spending more than $190,000 over their children’s early years. Yet the cost of childcare never stopped them. Thanks to Parker’s 17-year career as a linguist for the Air Force, all of her children have been cared for in the military’s childcare system where she never has to pay more than about 10 percent of her income.

Parker’s experience with the childcare available on her base has been overwhelmingly positive. “When they come home, I’m like, ‘Wow, you guys learned all this today,’”she said of her children in the program.

In most daycare centers, turnover rates among providers are extremely high. Not in Parker’s. A woman who taught her 16-year-old when he was little is now teaching her youngest child. “It’s just amazing,” Parker said. “She’s been there forever.” Her eldest children still like to go back in and say hi to their former teachers.

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Unemployment Just Fell for all the Wrong Reasons

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

The economy added 138,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.3 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs added was less than the 185,000 analysts had expected.

The unemployment rate is now at a 16-year low, but it appears to have fallen for mostly negative reasons last month. Both the share of workers either employed or actively seeking work and the share of people working out of all those of prime working age both dropped. 608,000 people dropped out of the labor force between April and May.

The past two months of job growth were also lower than originally reported, with March revised down to just 50,000 jobs added and April down to 174,000.

The share of unemployed people fell by 195,000 in May, bringing the total reduction since the start of this year to 774,000. The unemployment rate has fallen by a 0.5 percentage point since then. But as May’s numbers show, not all of them are finding jobs; some are giving up on their search.

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Missouri Lawmakers Just Took Raises Away from Minimum Wage Workers

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Bettie Douglas was about to start her long walk to the bus to go to work on Monday morning when a man from the water company showed up at her house in St. Louis, Missouri. He was there to cut off her service.

That news threw her into a tailspin. “No one should have to live like this,” she sobbed. She tries to show up to her fast food job with a smile, as her employer asks, but she was in tears during her entire morning commute thinking about how she was going to deal with potentially losing her water and then having to pay $50 to reconnect it — not to mention paying off what the water company says she owes.

Things were supposed to be a little easier for her by now. In 2015, St. Louis passed a minimum wage increase that would have mandated that workers be paid at least $9 an hour that year, $10 an hour this year, and $11 by next year. But it passed on the very same day that the state’s preemption law, which blocks cities and localities from increasing their own wages, took effect. After a consortium of business groups sued to block the increase, it was under an injunction until a judge in February ruled in favor of the increase. It immediately took effect after the injunction was lifted.

But while the $10 minimum wage is technically in effect now, Douglas says she still hasn’t seen any extra money in her paycheck. She still makes just $7.90 an hour, even after a decade of working at the same place.

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America’s Biggest Employers Leave Their Hourly Workers out of Paid Family Leave

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Niko Walker has given Starbucks seven years of his hard work, moving up the ranks from barista to shift supervisor. As a transgender man, he was drawn to a company that promises good benefits and has telegraphed an acceptance of diverse employees. The company’s health insurance has even paid for medical expenses stemming from his transition thus far.

“Starbucks became important to me at a very early stage,” he said. “They’ve always been very supportive of me and who I am… That really drew me to the company.”

But if and when Walker decides to start a family, he’s worried the acceptance of who he is and what he needs could evaporate.

If Niko were a white collar employee working in Starbucks’s corporate headquarters, he would be able to take 12 weeks of fully paid time off for the arrival of his baby. As a male retail employee who may adopt, however, he won’t be offered any paid time off at all.

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Trump says he’s stopping jobs from going abroad. Here’s the truth.

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Susan Haines and Sharon Vanacker knew something was wrong when their CTS Corporation factory in Elkhart, Indiana shut down production one afternoon in June of last year.

That “never happens, unless it’s a holiday or something,” Vanacker said. “Even on weekends they don’t shut down all production.”

All of the sensor and actuator plant’s employees were asked to attend a town hall style meeting with a company vice president. It was there that they found out that everyone at the factory would be losing their jobs beginning in January 2017. The work will instead be moved to factories in Mexico, China, and Taiwan.

Employees were blindsided by the announcement. “We had no clue, none at all,” Haines said.

The company knew the news would be difficult to swallow. “They asked us, everyone, to leave the building after the meeting,” Vanacker said. Production was kept idled for the rest of the weekend. “They locked the gates so no one could get in, which they haven’t done in years.” It seemed they were worried about angry employees who had all just learned they were losing their jobs.

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Trump’s tax proposal would open an enormous loophole for his own companies

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

President Donald Trump promised a huge, bold tax reform plan within his first 100 days aimed mostly at reducing taxes for the middle class.

But on Wednesday he released a whittled down outline centered around a reduction in the corporate tax rate, which is currently at 35 percent, to 15 percent. More details of a larger tax reform package, as well as how this one can be paid for and passed, are coming later, officials promise.

More troubling than Trump’s corporate tax reduction, though, is that the plan applies this rate not just to traditional corporate entities, but also to firms known as pass-through businesses such as law firms, hedge funds, and real estate companies. These companies — including LLCs, partnerships, and S corporations — currently pay taxes through the individual code because their money shows up on owners’ own returns.

Some of these are small, but they also include enormous companies, like much of the Trump Organization itself. Pass-through business income flows mostly to high earners: 70 percent of income made by partnerships and S corporations is captured by the richest 1 percent of Americans. In 2012, 40 percent of all S corporation income was made by firms worth more than $50 million, while 70 percent of partnership income went to a similarly sized group.

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The nurses who lost their jobs thanks to Trump’s new labor secretary nominee

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Nearly two decades ago, 23 nurses in Minneapolis walked off the job to protest what they saw as their employer’s attempt to cut off their health benefits. They never came back to work.

Four years later, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision that overturned a previous ruling and found the clinic where they worked was allowed to fire them because they had moved their strike back by four hours to ensure their patients were taken care of.

The case has fresh relevance now because of the one of the board members who wrote a concurrence in the decision: Alexander Acosta. President Trump has picked him to lead the Department of Labor, the government agency focused solely on protecting the rights of working Americans. Trump’s first selection, fast food CEO Andrew Puzder, withdrew from consideration.

Those who were involved in the case decades ago say Acosta’s actions in 2003 unfairly cost these nurses their jobs and set a precedent for all health care workers who go on strike. That could be troubling for American workers who look to an agency potentially run by Acosta to protect their rights.

“It still upsets me to this day,” said Gregg Corwin, the lawyer who represented the nurses in the case.

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Trump’s budget priorities mean cutting almost everything the government does

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

On Tuesday night, President Trump will speak before Congress about his legislative priorities. One he’s bound to mention is his upcoming budget outline, which will lay out where he wants to cut and increase government spending. He’s already described some of the things he wants to do in his budget: increase defense spending by $54 billion, while leaving Social Security and Medicare as is.

If he were to actually follow through on everything he says he wants to do, it would basically mean that the Department of Defense and entitlement programs would be the only things left in the government.

On Monday, Trump’s team said it would call for an equal decrease in the pot of government funding known as non-defense discretionary spending to make up for the increase in military spending.

Non-defense discretionary spending is a catch-all phrase for a huge number of government functions. The money funds educational programs like Head Start, Pell Grants, and K-12 services; core government duties like law enforcement and collecting taxes through the IRS; health and scientific research; nutrition, rent, child care, and home heating assistance for low-income people; public safety through the CDC and FDA; infrastructure like the National Highway System and air traffic control; environmental programs through the EPA; and the protection and preservation of national parks.

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Trump official admits Americans will have to pay for his infrastructure projects

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

n his first address before Congress last week, President Trump promised that during his presidency, “Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.”

“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs,” he added.

What he didn’t mention is that under the current design of his proposal, Americans will be directly paying for these projects. But that was later made clear by his Transportation Secretary.

In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Elaine Chao explained that the projects will necessitate higher tolls and fees levied on the people who use them.

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Trump wants to repeal the tax that ensured he owed money in 2005

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

President Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns. But late on Tuesday evening, reporter David Cay Johnston released a leaked copy of Trump’s income tax return in 2005 that showed he paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income.

The document throws a bit of cold water on the hypothesis that he had been able to avoid paying all income tax for two decades thanks to his ability to write down enormous business losses. But the documents also show that the only reason he paid income tax at all that year is thanks to a part of the tax code called the individual alternative minimum tax, or AMT.

And Trump wants to get rid of the AMT altogether.

The AMT dates back to 1969, when it became public that 155 people who made more than $200,000 paid no federal income tax three years prior. After public outcry, Congress enacted an additional minimum tax. That eventually transformed into the AMT.

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Trump’s new deportation rules could cost the economy trillions

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

President Trump pushed forward on his campaign promise to deport all undocumented immigrants on Tuesday by releasing new guidelines to expand and speed up deportations. The memos from the Department of Homeland Security target all undocumented immigrants for deportation, even those who haven’t committed serious crimes, while necessitating the hiring of thousands of new agents and building new detention facilities.

These policies are going to wreck havoc on the lives, families, and communities of those who end up deported. And they will also come with a steep cost for everyone in this country.

It’s still not clear whether the administration will actually have the resources and ability to deport every undocumented immigrant. But even if it were able to deport just the 7 million undocumented workers in this country, out of the estimated 12 million total, it would reduce GDP by 2.6 percent over a decade, according to research from Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega at the Center for American Progress (CAP), taking a $4.7 trillion bite out of the economy. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of CAP.) That’s comparable to the job losses experienced during the recent recession.

That lines up with other recent findings from Edwards and Ortega, which calculated that undocumented workers contribute 3 percent of GDP, or nearly $5 trillion in economic growth over ten years. Those contributions would disappear if all of those workers were deported.

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DC mayor won’t veto DC’s progressive paid family leave

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

In late December, the Washington, DC city council passed what would be the country’s most generous paid family leave program. And on Wednesday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to veto it, thus allowing it to go into law. The final step lies with Congress, which has 30 days to review it and potentially take action before the law can take effect and benefits can be paid out by 2020.

Bowser had publicly questioned the bill, particularly the cost to implement it. While in her letter sending the bill back to the council without a veto she said that “DC families should have time to care for themselves and their loved ones,” she listed a number of “grave concerns” about the legislation, including the small increase in payroll taxes that will be levied to fund the benefits, the fact that it will cover people who work in DC but live in Maryland and Virginia, and the cost to set it up. She pledged to work with the council to “overcome” these issues.

Businesses will pay a slight 0.62 percent increase in payroll taxes to pay into the fund. Then employees can earn up to 90 percent of their regular salary, capped at $1,000 a week, when they take time off. The length of the leave depends on what a worker needs it for: eight weeks for the arrival of a new child, six weeks to care for a sick family member, and two weeks of leave to tend to a personal illness. It will eventually cover about 530,000 workers.

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New study confirms that voter ID laws are very racist

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Conservative lawmakers routinely tout voter ID laws as a solution to voter fraud, but multiple investigations — including investigations conducted by Republican supporters of voter ID — confirm that those laws are a solution in search of a problem. The kind of fraud prevented by such laws is only slightly more common than elves.

A new study by political scientists Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, and Lindsay Nielson explains what these laws do accomplish, however. According to Hajnal and his co-authors, turnout among Hispanic voters is “7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries” in states with strict voter ID laws. The laws also reduce turnout among African-American and Asian-American voters.

White turnout, according to their study, is “largely unaffected.”


Hajnal and his co-authors also offer a possible explanation for why conservatives favor these laws. “By instituting strict voter ID laws,” they explain, “states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right.” In states with such laws “the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows.”

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Trump will roll back Obama rule that protected retirees from getting bilked by their advisers

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

On Friday, President Trump plans to sign an executive order rolling back protections put in place by the Obama administration to ensure financial advisers can’t give retirees bad advice to enrich themselves.

Before what became known as the fiduciary duty rule was put in place, advisers who help retirees decide where to invest their money were allowed to steer clients toward products that made the advisers money but weren’t in the clients’ best interest. This practice was costing Americans an estimated $17 billion a year.

One of them was Phil Ashburn. When he was offered a buyout after 30 years at Pacific Bell, he turned to a financial broker for advice on how to invest the money, who told him she would make him rich and he’d be set for life. But after she convinced him to put his money in a variable annuity, which fluctuates based on market performance, his original $355,000 investment went down to just $70,000 by 2015.

The broker had goaded him into that product because it made her money: she worked solely on commission and made $900,000 a year off of selling variable annuities.

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Trump’s federal hiring freeze will make the swamp swampier

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

As one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump on Monday signed a presidential memorandum instituting a hiring freeze across the federal government, except for the military.

The move follows through on a pledge he made on the campaign trail, albeit a couple of days late, to halt federal hiring on his first day of office. This, he said, would “reduce federal workforce through attrition” and tie into his pledge to “drain the swamp” and address corruption. But past experience shows that across-the-board government hiring freezes don’t reduce the workforce or save money. On the contrary, they often increase costs while making the government’s work less accountable to the public.

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office concluded as much in 1982. In a report released at that time that looked back at four previous freezes, it found, “Government-wide hiring freezes have not been an effective means of controlling Federal employment.”

Because freezes were doled out equally, regardless of each agency’s workload, agencies had to find other ways to get their work done — and many turned to contractors, which aren’t subject to the same transparency regulations as the government workforce. That includes disclosure laws like the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Register Act that make information on what employees do available to the public.

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Thousands of women will go on strike to protest Trump’s inauguration

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

The election made Ann want to do something big and bold.

As a working mother who is also a first-generation Muslim immigrant — and who declined to give her full name for fear of President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to create a Muslim registry — she has much to be concerned about. “The recent election and just all the negative commentary and hateful remarks around immigration, immigrants, and Muslims and people of color really has impacted me,” she said. “All the rhetoric around taking away women’s reproductive freedoms, even such basic freedoms as access to contraception, the thought of not having that is frightening.”

“Even the thought of the Muslim registry…the thought of registering my child, it gives me goosebumps even just saying it,” she added.

So on January 20 and 21, inauguration weekend, she will not just be joining a March in Seattle that’s affiliated with the Women’s March on Washington. She is also committed to going on strike.

While she works in health care and says she can’t leave her patients for a day, she’s going to go on strike from all the unpaid labor she does. For those two days, she plans to refuse to do all the housework and will step back from primary parenting for her four-year-old daughter, leaving it to her partner.

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Kentucky Republicans assault unions and wages in first act of the year

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Last year, Republican Matt Bevin won the governorship of Kentucky, taking over from Democrat Steve Beshear. Then, in November, Republicans took full control of the state legislature after they gained their first majority in Kentucky’s state house in almost a century.

And the very first things the Republican majority did with its power this past weekend were to pass a so-called “right-to-work” law, which will likely weaken unions’ finances, and repeal a prevailing wage law that ensures government contractors pay decently.

Kentucky was the last of the Southern states that hadn’t gone right-to-work, but after Bevin signed the bill on Saturday, it now joins the rest — becoming the 27th state in the country to pass such a law.

Right-to-work laws create what critics call a free rider problem. Normally, all workers in a unionized workplace must pay dues to the union given that it’s bargaining on their behalf. But right-to-work laws allow people to opt out of dues, even if they’re still being represented, which means they can benefit from union negotiations over wages and working conditions but don’t have to give any money to support these efforts.

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The economy grew by 2.2 million jobs in 2016

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

The economy grew by 2.2 million jobs in 2016

The economy added 156,000 jobs in the last month of 2016, while the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.7 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts had expected 175,000 jobs to be added.

Meanwhile, revisions to October and November added another net 19,000 jobs compared to what was previously reported.

Overall, the economy added 2.2 million jobs in 2016.

The bigger news in December was wage growth, however. After falling 2 cents in November, wages climbed up by 10 cents in December, leading to a 2.9 percent year over year rate of growth. That’s the fastest rate of growth paychecks have seen during the recovery.

December’s job growth was driven by health care, which added 43,000 jobs, food service and drinking places with 30,000 jobs, and social assistance with 20,000 jobs. Food service grew by 246,600 jobs over the course of 2016, while health care added 421,700. The retail sector also added large gains, growing by 256,700 jobs over the year, as did professional and business services, which grew by 522,000.

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Scott Walker directly appeals to Trump to let him drug test people who need food stamps

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who campaigned for President-elect Donald Trump during his presidential run, has sent his ally a public letter asking him to pave the way for drug testing food stamps recipients before Trump has even assumed office.

“We want your help as soon as possible,” Walker wrote, before outlining specific demands, the first of which is the ability to screen and test people who need food stamps for drug use.

While states have broad authority to change the requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash welfare program, and thus 10 states have chosen to drug test applicants and recipients and deny those who refuse the tests or fail them, they currently have no such latitude over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

But that hasn’t stopped Walker from signing a measure into law that would drug test SNAP applicants and recipients and then suing the federal government to allow him to carry it out. He’s also asked Congress to pass legislation that would give him the permission he seeks, but a bill put forward to do so failed.

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Tens of thousands of low-wage workers flood the streets demanding higher pay

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Starting in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a flood of low-wage workers joined the pouring rain on the streets of New York City, marking four years to the day since fast food employees first went on a day-long strike in the city and launched a movement.

The movement, which now calls itself the Fight for 15, is demanding a minimum wage of at least $15 as well as the right to unionize. And Tuesday’s day of action proved just how massive it has now become. Strikes and protests weren’t limited to New York City — they reached 340 cities. Fast food workers were joined by a variety of low-paid people, including childcare providers, home health aides, airport workers, healthcare employees, adjunct professors, and, for the first time, Uber drivers.


Uber drivers went on strike in more than two dozen cities. They were joined by striking hospital workers in Pittsburgh as well as a number of fast food employees across the country.

Many airport workers, including baggage handlers and cabin cleaners, also went on strike for the first time. A group walked off the job at Boston’s Logan International Airport, while more than 500 went on strike at Chicago O’Hare. They were backed up by protests at nearly 20 other major airports.

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Millions of workers won higher pay and paid time off

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

On Tuesday, voters in four states approved significant wage increases for the lowest paid among them. In two of those states, voters also passed paid sick leave mandates.

The minimum wage is now set to eventually rise to $12 an hour by 2020 in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, while it will go up to $13.50 in the same timeframe in Washington State. Maine’s law is also notable for getting rid of a lower wage requirement for workers who make tips and instead requiring that all workers be paid the same minimum wage; it becomes the eighth state to do so.

Altogether, 2.1 million workers will now get a raise this coming January.

The majority of states had already increased their minimum wages above the federal floor before Election Day, which has stood at $7.25 an hour for the last seven years. But just three were set to increase it to $12 or more: California, New York, and Oregon.

Arizona and Washington will also join the previous five states that have enacted paid sick days requirements that allow workers to accrue and use paid time off if they or their loved ones fall ill.

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FBI Director Reportedly Went Against Protocol in Sending Letter about Clinton’s Emails

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

FBI Director James Comey acted against the directives of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials when he sent a letter to members of Congress on Friday about new emails that may or may not relate to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to three media outlets.

The New Yorker, Washington Post, and ABC News all report that DOJ officials, who oversee the FBI, made it clear to Comey that the letter would go against long established protocol.

An anonymous DOJ official who spoke to the Post told Comey that the letter would go against the position that the agency doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, nor that it takes any actions that could be seen as influencing an election. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it,” the source said.

The New Yorker even reports that the issue went as high as Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who, according to an anonymous administration official, told Comey that her preference would be not to send the letter for the same reasons.

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Trump aggressively fought to starve the towns near his golf courses of tax revenue

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has basically admitted to avoiding paying federal income taxes for a long period of time — potentially as long as 18 years.

In his defense, he has insisted that he pays other taxes, such as those owed to state and local governments. “Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions,” his campaign said in a statement in response to documents uncovered by the New York Times that showed he may have skirted federal taxes. They kept repeating this defense even as Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

But court and tax records obtained by a number of media outlets show that he has aggressively fought paying those other taxes, too. And avoiding obligations to state and local governments has an even more harmful impact, given that any loss in tax revenue for a state or local budget means either cutting services or raising that revenue from other people.

When CNN reviewed tax records for 26 properties that Trump owned fully or in part — including buildings, golf courses, and his own homes — it found that for all but one he fought their original assessed value aggressively in order to bring down what he would owe in property taxes. (On the last one, a golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, he lowered his tax bill by getting a herd of goats to graze on the property, qualifying for a state farmland tax break.) For many of them, CNN found he was successful in reducing his taxes by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

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The New Birtherism: Trump Says Hillary Clinton is Ineligible to Run for President

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

At the final presidential debate on Wednesday night, the moment that stood out the most was when Republican nominee Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the results of the election, no matter the outcome, and ensure a peaceful transition of power. It was an attack on one of the bedrock foundations of American democracy.

But embedded in his continuing claim that the system is rigged against him, he rolled out a new line of assault: that rival Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is itself illegitimate.

“I’ll tell you one other thing: she shouldn’t be allowed to run,” he said. “She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect, I say it’s rigged, because she should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things.”

This new line of attack — that the election might not just be tilted by bad press coverage or the extremely rare phenomenon of voter fraud, but that Trump also never faced a legitimate rival — mirrors his years-long fight to undermine Barack Obama’s presidency.

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Bernie Sanders Vows to Close Tax Loophole That Lets Trump Avoid Taxes

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Over the weekend, the New York Times published pieces of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s 1995 state tax returns, which showed that Trump reported a $916 million loss.

Thanks to the efforts of the real estate industry in the 1990s, including Trump himself, a provision of the tax code allows those who own real estate investments to count such losses from pass-through businesses against any other income they make, thus potentially canceling it out and allowing them to avoid paying federal income tax on it. (Because Trump has refused to release his tax returns, it’s impossible to say for sure how he treated that loss on his federal income tax returns.)

Now Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is vowing to crack down on the very provision that Trump may have exploited.

Earlier this week, Sanders promised to introduce legislation in the next session of Congress that would change a number of things in the tax code, including the exemption that the real estate industry carved out for itself from rules regarding passive losses.

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Paul Ryan Plans to Use a Trump Presidency to Ram through his Extreme Agenda

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Election Day is still a month away, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already tipped his hand about how he plans to enact his agenda without interference from Democrats if Donald Trump wins.

At a recent news conference, as reported by Politico, Ryan said that he planned to use the process known as budget reconciliation to implement his policy agenda, which he has dubbed “A Better Way.” That would mean Republicans could pass their priorities without Democratic members of Congress being able to block them.

“This is our plan for 2017,” he said, showing off a copy of the agenda. “Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation… This is our game plan for 2017.”

If the House and Senate passed a budget resolution, they could then start the reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to vote on measures related to fiscal policies without the possibility of them being filibustered and with a limited ability for them to be amended. The bills can address spending — including on programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps —taxes and the debt limit.

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Trump Digs in on Why Refusing to Pay Taxes Makes Him ‘Smart’

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

At the first presidential debate earlier this week, Republican nominee Donald Trump seemed to admit that he doesn’t pay anything in federal income taxes. But he’s spent the days since lying about what he said.

Speculating about why Trump has refused to release his tax returns during the debate, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton said, “Maybe he doesn’t want the american people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.” She noted that when Trump was made to hand over tax returns over the years, “they showed he didn’t pay any income tax.”

Trump broke in to say, “That makes me smart.”

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Trump Tries to Pretend He Didn’t Brag About Not Paying Taxes

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is the first candidate in 40 years who has refused to release his tax returns. At the presidential debate on Monday night, his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton suggested that may be because the public would see he didn’t pay any federal income taxes at all despite his self-professed wealth.

Trump seemed to admit that this was indeed the case. “That makes me smart,” he responded.

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Trump’s New Tax Plan Screws the Middle Class

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

For months, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had distanced himself from his own tax plan, released during the primary campaign, and promised to put out a new version. He finally followed through on that promise last week, releasing details as part of what he called an “economic policy package.”

But while Trump had originally disavowed his own proposal because he wanted to give the middle class a bigger benefit, his new plan ends up doing the opposite.

In May, he was asked about analyses that found most of the tax cuts went to the richest 1 percent of Americans. “I will say this, and I’m not necessarily a huge fan of that,” he responded. “I’m so much more into the middle class who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country.”

Later he said of the new plan that the wealthy would end up paying more, while under his new plan, “Everybody’s getting a tax cut, especially the middle class.”

But the new plan is out, as is a new analysis from the Tax Foundation. And it does not find this to be the case.

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Trump’s Bold Claims about His New Tax Plan Don’t Add Up

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has already talked at length about his plans to reform U.S. trade relations and released a tax plan. But on Thursday, he put out an update to the latter and packaged many of his past plans into what he calls an “economic policy package.”

And in the fact sheet describing the policies, he makes some dubious claims.

Trump’s original tax plan proposed having just three tax brackets set at 10, 20, and 25 percent, which would have meant bringing the top rate paid by the wealthiest down from 39.6 percent. The new plan tweaks those levels, bringing them in line with the plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Republicans, making them instead 12, 25, and 33 percent.

But much of the rest of Trump’s plan remains intact, including reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, the lowest proposed by any Republican who ran this cycle; repealing the estate tax that’s levied on the richest 0.2 percent of Americans; adding “millions” more to the ranks of people who are too poor to owe federal income taxes; and getting rid of carried interest loophole hedge fund managers use to pay lower taxes while still reducing the capital gains tax that allows those who make money from investments to pay a lower rate.

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