Posts from Rebekah Entralgo

GOP farm bill will be a nightmare for state SNAP programs

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

The House Agriculture Committee farm bill currently snaking its way through the House of Representatives will likely be huge migraine for states, according new analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

According to the CBPP analysis, under the current farm bill, states would have to jump through hoops in order to provide their most vulnerable residents with the means to feed themselves, no doubt impacting low-income families and individuals and making their lives harder than they are already.

The primarily GOP-backed farm bill also unravels nearly two-decades-worth of progress toward streamlining and simplifying SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. States would be required to collect monthly information from 7 million SNAP recipients, detailing how many hours they worked at a job or work program. Currently, most states collect data on a participants’ income only every six months or when a major change occurs that could affect the household’s eligibility, but don’t track small changes in work hours or earnings.

Reporting hours and earnings on a monthly basis could dramatically impact SNAP participants who work low-wage service industry jobs, where workers aren’t entirely in control of their hours. The House farm bill imposes harsh penalties on participants who fail to meet the number of hours required, meaning an individual could be lose SNAP benefits for 12 months if they failed to meet the 20 hour requirement. After a second month of non-compliance, a SNAP participant could lose their access to SNAP for three years.

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Amazon puts 7,000 jobs on hold because of a tax that would help Seattle’s homeless population

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has more money than he knows what do deal with.

While visiting Germany in late April to pick up the Axel Springer Award for innovation, Bezos gave an exclusive interview to Business Insider about how it feels to be the richest man in the world.

Bezos, who has a net worth of $130.8 billion, told the outlet that the only logical way to spend his money is by funding space tourism through his spaceflight company, Blue Origin.

“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it,” Bezos said.

What Bezos does not want to spend money on at all is helping the homeless population in the city where his company is located.

On Wednesday, Amazon announced the company would halt the construction of a new building in downtown Seattle it was planning to build, jeopardizing some 7,000 jobs.

Why? Because the company opposes a tax being considered by the City Council.

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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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22 Democratic senators want to know how sexual harassment financially impacts women

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Twenty-two Democratic senators are calling on the Labor Department to collect additional, better data regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.

The senators sent a letter to the department, signed by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and co-signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), among others. Not a single Republican senator attached their name to the letter.

“What is known is that harassment is not confined to industry or one group. It affects minimum-wage fast-food workers, middle-class workers at car manufacturing plants, and white-collar workers in finance and law, among many others,” the senators wrote in the letter, provided to Buzzfeed. “No matter the place or source, harassment has a tangible and negative economic effect on individuals’ lifetime income and retirement, and its pervasiveness damages the economy as a whole.”

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The Trump administration’s long-awaited analysis of the GOP tax plan has bad news for Republicans

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department finally released its analysis of the GOP tax plan: a single page report that essentially concedes the analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation is correct.

According to the Treasury analysis, the tax plan will cost an estimated $1.5 trillion dollars, while raising only $408 billion in revenue, leaving the country $1 trillion in the hole. This eviscerates any notion that the GOP plan will pay for itself, as previously suggested by administration officials like chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Treasury Department also took its analysis one step too far, assuming 2.9 percent economic growth over the next decade, without providing any actual analysis for it. A Treasury memo released on Monday “modeled the revenue impact of higher growth effects, using the Administration projections of approximately a 2.9% real GDP growth rate over 10 years contained in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.”

The 3 percent growth projected by the Trump administration’s 2018 fiscal year budget has been debunked and labeled a “fantasy” numerous times.

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Marco Rubio says he won’t vote for the GOP tax bill unless he gets what he wants

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

One of Congress’ most spineless senators has thrown a wrench in the Republican Party’s plan to overhaul the tax code before Christmas.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a no on the GOP tax bill unless the child tax credit (CTC), for which he has previously advocated, is extended to lower-income families.

Rubio has hinted he might vote against the bill in the past.

His disapproval intensified after Republican leaders announced Wednesday they had reached a final decision on the specifics of the GOP legislation. The full text will be released on Friday, but key details include lowering the top individual income bracket to 37 percent and cutting the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, rather than the 20 percent originally proposed by the White House.

This no doubt frustrated Rubio, who co-sponsored an amendment with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have extended the child tax credit (currently expanded to $2,000 in the GOP Senate bill) to lower-income families who don’t make enough to pay taxes on their income, but rather pay taxes on their payroll. Rubio and Lee proposed Congress could pay for the change by increasing the corporate tax rate to 20.94 percent.

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Republicans finally find something more important than a 20 percent corporate tax rate

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

If there was one part of the GOP tax framework President Donald Trump was adamant about, it was a 20 percent corporate rate.

House and Senate Republicans, however, decided today they aren’t so set on it.

Republicans in both chambers have reportedly reached an agreement on the final version of the bill, which includes a 21 percent corporate tax rate. The change in the corporate tax rate will help pay for lowering the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, a provision that would benefit millionaires.

At one point, Republicans were so set on a 20 percent corporate tax rate, that while the Senate was in the throes of negotiations two weeks ago, the party collectively struck down an amendment that would have actually provided marginal middle class tax relief to a tax bill that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy.

Under the current proposed Senate bill, the child tax credit is expanded to $2,000, but isn’t refundable, meaning lower-income families who don’t make enough for income taxes and instead pay only payroll taxes wouldn’t qualify for the full tax credit, with many only receiving an additional $75 per child annually. The amendment written by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed lowering the level of income at which the tax credit kicks in, extending the benefit to more lower-income families. Rubio and Lee suggested raising the corporate tax rate two percentage points in order to pay for the change, which would have cost around $70 billion dollars.

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Senate Republicans refuse to believe the official analysis of their tax plan

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

A key analysis of the Senate Republican tax plan released late Thursday afternoon threw a wrench into the GOP leadership’s rush to pass tax reform this week. In response, Republican lawmakers are choosing to simply ignore the report’s findings.

Just as the Senate was about to vote on Thursday on whether to advance their tax plan, the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation released a troubling report. The JCT report found that the $1.4 trillion dollar tax plan would generate around $400 billion dollars worth of growth, leaving the total net cost of the plan to be $1 trillion dollars — completely eviscerating any notion that the plan would pay for itself, a key White House talking point.

“We think we can pay for the entire tax cut through growth over the cycle,” said Chief White Economic Adviser Gary Cohn told CNBC in September.

In reality, according to the JCT, the plan won’t even make up for a third of what it costs and increase GDP by 0.8 percent over the next decade.

In the face of such bleak numbers, rather than sending the legislation back to committee to keep working on it, Republicans have decided to brush aside the analysis. Multiple Republicans are now saying the JCT’s findings can’t be trusted because the report underestimates the economic growth lawmakers are confident will result from tax reform.

“I think it’s pretty clear they’re wrong,” Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said in reference to the JCT’s findings, telling reporters he thought the JCT had “lowballed” economic growth.

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The GOP has a problem with paying for kids’ basic care

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Fifty-six days after Congress failed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), some American children are at risk of losing their health insurance. The deadline to renew the program’s funding was Sept. 30, and Congress hasn’t granted the program $15 billion to continue.

As a result, the popular state-level insurance program for low-income children and pregnant women is facing a funding cliff. While some states may be able to keep the program going through some of next year, half a dozen are projected to run out of funding by late December or early January.

It takes time to make program changes and alert families they’ll be left in the lurch, so states are starting to take action now. States closest to the funding cliff are preparing to warn customers that funding might disappear, leaving kids in the lurch. There are a few options for those families who rely on CHIP once the funding disappears.

States decide if those families could be enrolled in Medicaid or covered through Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace offerings. But Republicans — Trump in the executive and members of his party in Congress and at the state level — have tried hard block access to both of those alternatives, by sabotaging Obamacare, eliminating support for enrollment, blocking Medicaid expansion, etc.

The program has historically enjoyed bipartisan support, but Republicans, in control of both chambers of Congress and steering a massive tax bill through a lightning-fast approval process, are now unable to the program the funds it needs to survive.

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Union Matters

Whispers of the Wealthy Few

While the National Archives has made clear that it won’t be able to produce all documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the end of October, Senate Republican leaders announced Friday that they will begin confirmation hearings on Sept. 4. As a result, the confirmation process will proceed without full access to some 900,000 pages of documents detailing Kavanaugh’s career and judicial record.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) recently told reporters: “Working people deserve a nominee who will extend the guarantees of the Constitution and the promises of our country to everyone who lives and works here. We don’t need another justice who only listens to the whispers of the wealthy few.”

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Move Over, Myths

Move Over, Myths