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          10/10/2018: YOUR SAY: Violence will only worsen      Cache   Translate Page      
READING that violence in the classroom cost Victoria $1.7 million in compensation last year (“Class war”, HS, Oct 8), I was surprised, as I thought it would be much higher. Is anyone in our state unaware law and order has broken down? This will always...
           Comment on New Jersey Doubles Down on Class Warfare and Big Government by The Best-Governed State Is…? | International Liberty       Cache   Translate Page      
[…] State Business Tax Climate Index, which is a snapshot of current competitiveness (New Jersey is in last place, which shouldn’t surprise […]
          Pass on Tax Cuts!      Cache   Translate Page      

In order to ensure the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of December 2017 (TCJA), the GOP expanded a loophole to particularly benefit those who would vote on it: themselves. This includes deficit-hawk Senator Corker (TN), who had been undecided on breaking his promise to not add to the deficit. Now, the GOP are trying to make that loophole a permanent tax deduction.

 

Because of a deduction added to the “pass-through” loophole, fifteen Republicans from tax-writing committees will receive an average tax cut of $314,000 this year.

 

Pass-through tax status is ostensibly meant to help small business owners by allowing earnings to be passed through to themselves  —  and therefore taxed as personal income instead of corporate profit. TCJA broadened this loophole with a 20% deduction, meaning a pass-through of $100,000 would only be taxed on $80,000. $20,000: tax-free.

 

The GOP’s admittedly effective marketing has branded them, for many, as the fiscally responsible adults in the room. While a lot went into this, two simple pieces are their constant rhetoric of “Jobs” and “Small Businesses”  —  code for profits and the wealthy.

 

“The top 1 percent of households get more than a fifth of their income from pass-throughs, compared to less than 6 percent for households in the middle 60 percent of the income distribution.”  —  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)

 

As such, it makes sense that less than half of those claiming pass-through income are actual small business employers or employees. Most are not even businesses:

Small Business Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

 

Understand: all fifteen Republicans who wrote TCJA stand to gain, on average, $314,000 each  —  from this one deduction. Meanwhile, those same writers of the bill, with no explanation, specifically excluded architects and engineers from claiming the deduction through their own businesses.

 

The fifteen include Reps Vern Buchanan (FL) and Diane Black (TN), both members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Black stands to gain up to one million dollars from this one loophole. Buchanan: up to two. Senator Bob Corker (TN) originally vowed to oppose any legislation that added to the deficit, but ultimately voted for the bill after it made the pass-through deduction more generous for real estate investors  —  such as himself.

CAPAF: Pass Through Deductions of Congress, by Size of Highest Potential

 

Republicans harp on making taxes simpler, but they consistently make taxes more complicated in favor of themselves and their donors. Notice how “index card taxes” (and term limits) never survive after elections? The pass-through deduction is just the latest in their syphoning of wealth from the country. And now, they want to make the 20% deduction permanent in the next round of tax cuts.

 

While members of Congress will inevitably benefit from any tax cuts, this targeted tax relief further burdens the middle and lower class with ever greater wealth inequality. Why harp on this obscure deduction loophole? Because making this deduction permanent would transfer $30.5 billion to the already top 1% in income every year. Make no mistake: This is Class War.

.61 X $50B Annual Cost = $30.5B Annual Wealth Transfer

 

Remember: the writers of this bill further complicated this system for a reason  —  to take advantage of those complications. Then the GOP hides behind them with fake empathy, bonding over outrage at this system as a recruitment tool.

 

Taxes seem insufferable precisely because the ruling class does not want us to engage with them. I used to be both confounded and miserably bored by taxes. And why would anyone want to work so hard to understand something that offers no meaning or joy? It turns out, anything is engaging when examined with a justice lens, even taxes, trucks, and sports (the things that tend to bore me).

 

We need to understand race to work for racial justice. We need to understand taxes to work for tax justice. We need to understand what they are doing so we can stop them from doing it.

 

Stop them when they try to talk over our heads, saying “The system is so complicated there is little we can do.” Stop them from using gaslit government frustration as a recruiting tool. And start presenting a #TaxJustice platform that counters their recruiting efforts.

 

Understanding taxes as if people matter is how to get people to both care and make sense of economics.

 


Learn More about Tax Justice at the Patriotic Millionaires “University:”

Tax Basics - Patriotic Millionaires University

Tax Basics Letter from the Founder and President Dear Candidate, Because voters think the tax code is complicated…pmuniversity.org

Pierce Delahunt (they/them) holds an M.Ed. from the Institute for Humane Education. Their research was a study of activist-education programs throughout the country. Pierce has worked with Youth Empowered Action, an activist-education summer camp, since 2014. They grew up in New York and New Jersey, and currently live in a eco-van traveling the country and speaking at schools. They are a member of Resource Generation and Patriotic Millionaires, two groups that organize wealthy folk to leverage their privileges toward collective liberation.

 


           Comment on Syria: The New Terra Nullius by stanleydundee       Cache   Translate Page      
I hate to quibble with such a compelling essay, but quibble I must. Please, please do not perpetuate the myth that the US federal government must borrow or tax to spend, as in <q>For [weapons manufacturers], any sniff of a chance for permanent occupation smells like permanent war, and thus permanent profit, paid for by debt in the present to be paid by future tax-payers.</q> This myth and its fellows, <a href='http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=9281' rel="nofollow">refuted comprehensively by modern money theory (MMT),</a> is the foundation stone of arguments for austerity, and hence a key weapon in class war. In all modern fiat currencies, the sovereign (i.e. the creator of the currency) not only may, but must, spend for taxes to be paid. The choice to issue debt to correspond to spending in excess of tax revenue is exactly that: a choice, a matter of policy. It's not necessary, and indeed the interest paid on such debt amounts to a subsidy for those wealthy enough to have surplus cash to invest in the only financial assets which are free of the risk of involuntary default. States which hold US sovereign debt likely do so mostly because they have to contend with surplus dollars that are consequent to their trade surplus with the US. They give us stuff, we give them dollars, they park the dollars in treasuries. All that said, the choice to spend on military hardware and imperial war does divert real resources (labor and materials) from the rest of the economy, resources which could be used to repair failing infrastructure, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and to otherwise foster better living conditions for the US populace. So clearly US citizens are paying for the imperialist program. But it's a tactical error to present that conclusion in a way which endorses the austerity agenda, which implicitly assumes a finite amount of financial resources and hence finds it easy to deny services to ordinary citizens. Fiat money is unbounded and springs into existence with the spending of the sovereign. The purpose of taxes is not to fund spending but to create demand for the currency (and hence provide its value), to drain excess demand from the real economy (to maintain price stability) and to implement policies such as redistribution and discouragement of behavior. The policy choices we have available to us under a fiat currency are much wider than is commonly acknowledged, and the proponents of balanced budgets and other austerity policies would greatly prefer that knowledge of the breadth of policy choices (and other implications of MMT) remains widely unknown. May I humbly suggest my own <a href='http://www.stanleydundee.com/getting-money-right' rel="nofollow">Getting Money Right</a> as an introductory survey of the plethora of ignorance that MMT sweeps away. Many thanks for your invaluable efforts here.


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