One more chance to tell the U.S. Senate “NO” on a terrible tax plan

U.S. Senate leaders are still struggling to find the bare majority they need to pass a terrible tax bill that funds a giveaway to corporations and the super-rich at the expense of the middle class. That means you still have a chance to call your senators—John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans—to tell them to oppose the bill. Call 888-516-5820, toll-free, as soon as possible today.

For fresh motivation, read AFT President Randi Weingarten’s new op-ed article from the Orange County (Cal.) Register, under the headline “Picking middle class pockets to deliver for donors”:

Tax policy is a series of political choices. And the tax bills that Republicans are trying to ram through Congress at breakneck speed show that the GOP is choosing to further enrich big corporations and the already wealthy, make it harder for working Americans trying to climb the ladder of opportunity, and penalize states like California that make robust investments in public services. This is a blatant giveaway to the political donor class at the expense of the middle class.

Republicans’ claim that their tax overhaul is good for middle-class and working Americans is a sham. The middle 20 percent of income-earners—literally the “middle class”—would receive just 10 percent of the tax benefits in 2018, declining to 8 percent in 2027. Many middle class families will be slapped with a tax increase, including households earning $10,000 to $75,000. Who wins? The top 1 percent of earners who would receive 80 percent of the tax cuts under the GOP plans and corporations, which would see a permanent 15 percent deduction in their taxes. Unlike the permanent tax benefits for corporations, tax cuts for families will be temporary, as reductions in tax rates, expansions of the standard deduction, the teacher tax credit, and the child tax credit all expire after 2025. This means millions of working and middle-class Americans who initially get breaks would face tax hikes starting in 2026.

Yet House Speaker Paul Ryan says that the plan the House has already passed “will deliver real relief for people in the middle, people who are also striving to get there.” And President Donald Trump says the plan “is for the working people” and there’s “very little benefit for people of wealth.”

Tell that to the educators who, under the House plan, will no longer be able to deduct a portion of the cost of items they buy for their students and classrooms. Or to the graduate students whose tuition benefits would be counted as taxable income, putting many of these modestly paid workers in the nation’s highest tax bracket and making it prohibitively expensive to go to graduate school. Tell that to the families in the lowest tax bracket whose tax rate will go up yet can least afford it. Or the borrowers who will no longer be able to deduct the interest on their student loans or mortgages.

The impact in just one area, public education, shows how devastating and short-sighted these tax plans would be. Local services like public schools are financed through state and local taxes, including property taxes. Nationally, state income and sales taxes fund 46 percent of public education, and local property taxes contribute an additional 45 percent. That figure is even higher in California, where 57 percent of public education funding is tied to state income and sales taxes. Since the first federal income tax form in 1913, the federal government has incentivized localities to support themselves by allowing taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes. For the first time in more than a century, the GOP is changing that.

Under the Republican tax plans, nearly 29 million households will lose the SALT deduction. This will hit ordinary Americans in their wallets and squeeze funds for public education and other important public services….One analysis (NEA) estimates that eliminating SALT would threaten approximately $250 billion in public education funding over the next ten years. California is no stranger to the harmful effects of deep budget cuts — larger class sizes, fewer essential staff, stripped-down academic and support programs, and the resulting effects on student well-being and achievement.

State and local cuts could be exacerbated by deep cuts to federal programs. The tax plan would add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade. Many observers predict that Congressional Republicans would use this increase in the federal deficit to justify cuts to critical federal programs like SNAP and Medicaid….And, by eliminating the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, 13 million Americans will no longer be insured, premiums will go up across the board, and insurance exchanges will be destabilized.

This GOP-Trump tax bill is a prime example of the corrosive impact of money in politics. In the zeal to reward their donors, Republicans are hurting the working and middle-class people who live in their districts. Members of Congress can and should pass tax legislation that, as Speaker Ryan said, delivers “relief for people in the middle,” which the House plan does not do. Some Republican lawmakers have bravely taken a stand against these bills….It’s now up to the Senate, which should reject this wealth redistribution plan that puts those at the top before low- and moderate-income families.

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