There’s No ‘Free Market’ Solution To Health Care

(Photo: Shutterstock)

By Geoff Coventry for Other Words – The Republicans have big plans for health care in this country: to eliminate coverage for millions of Americans while delivering a big tax cut to the rich. As someone who stands to benefit from that tax cut, let me just say: I don’t need it, and I don’t want it. No tax cut is worth excluding millions of Americans from the health services they need. Any new health care legislation should be focused on providing the best available health services for all Americans, not deliberately putting them out of reach. And yet, this is exactly what the twin monstrosities that came out of the House and Senate would have done. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House bill would’ve left 23 million Americans uncovered by 2026. The Senate version was only a shade better, leaving 22 million people out. Those bills were nonstarters with the public — the party was forced to pull them, along with any immediate plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). This Republican-majority Congress has shown their cards: They favor less coverage for workers and the elderly and lower taxes for the wealthy. Republicans in both chambers claim they’re doing this to support “freedom” and “choice” for the American people. They say the “free market” is the only way to provide Americans with access to affordable health care.

Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Revenue Now Exceeds Half A Billion Dollars

MASON TVERT / VS STRATEGIES
State Rep. Jonathan Singer (D) accepts a novelty check for half a billion dollars from “The Cannabis Community” on Wednesday.

By Ryan Grenoble for The Huffington Post – In the three-and-a-half years since the state began allowing adults to purchase marijuana for recreational use, cannabis has contributed more than half a billion dollars in tax revenue to both state and local coffers. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Denver-based marijuana consulting firm VS Strategies. Based on data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, the firm tabulated that cannabis-related taxes from 2014 through mid-2017 totaled $506,143,635. That includes the taxes on purchases of marijuana for recreational or medical use, as well as fees paid by cannabis businesses. The tax figure is substantially more than some experts predicted in 2012 when Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. At that time, some analysts projected the state would net between $5 and $22 million a year in taxes. VS Strategies spotlighted its report by presenting an oversize check for half a billion dollars Wednesday to Colorado state Rep. Jonathan Singer (D). A majority of money has gone to fund K-12 education (even with that, Colorado’s education funding badly lags behind most of the rest of the country). Amendment 64 requires the first $40 million in tax revenue be allotted for school construction.

Seattle Makes History – Passes ‘Tax The Rich’ Income Tax

Kshama Sawant addresses a crowd of "tax the rich" supporters outside at a rally before the vote.

By Andre Roberge for Progressive Army – Even though this may seem like cut-and-dry common sense legislation, this ordinance still has an uphill battle ahead of itself. Former Washington State Attorney Rob McKenna laid bare the main issues as follows: 1.[The city] would also have to persuade the Supreme Court to ignore an existing state statute that prohibits counties, cities … from imposing a tax on net income. 2.[What they] would have to do is persuade the Supreme Court to overlook its own precedent. The precedent alluded to above deals with a 1930s Washington Supreme Court decision that states “income is property, and the state’s constitution declares that all property must be taxed uniformly.” Since Seattle’s proposed income tax is a progressive tax and not “uniformly” distributed onto all tax brackets, the Supreme Court would have to redefine property. Some critics have gone even further.

Financial Industry Split On Speculation Tax

(Photo: Funny Solution Studio / Shutterstock)

By Sarah Anderson for Inequality.org – Wall Street lobbyists have the luxury, at least for now, of largely ignoring calls for a U.S. tax on financial speculation. While Senator Bernie Sanders made such a tax a centerpiece of his presidential bid, the Republicans who now control Washington are focused on delivering tax cuts — not increases — to their banker friends. But in Europe, it’s another story. Ten EU governments have committed to imposing a small tax on stock and derivatives trading as a way to raise massive revenue for urgent needs while also encouraging longer-term sustainable investment. And while the European negotiations over tax design have dragged on for several years, they are now close enough to cutting a deal to make industry opponents genuinely worried. The financial lobby is putting particularly intense pressure on the new French president, Emmanuel Macron. A former banker, Macron is viewed as a potential weak link in the coalition that has been working to develop the tax. To help counter this pressure, 52 senior financial professionals have broken rank with their industry peers and released a joint statement in support of financial transaction taxes (FTT). The signers include Lord Adair Turner, the UK’s former top financial regulator, Rob Johnson, president of the New York-based Institute for New Economic Thinking and the former managing director at Soros Fund Management…

Traditional Welfare And Taxes Can Be Reformed To Support Universal Basic Income

basic income by asher platts

By Scott Santens for Futurism – Some of the most common questions ever asked in regards to the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) are in regards to the details. “How much income? Who gets it? Who pays for it? How is it paid for? What does it replace?” These are all great and important questions, but the answers vary from person to person, because the answers are a matter of personal and political preferences when it comes to fine-grained details. With that said, after years of studying basic income, below you will find what I currently believe in May of 2017 are the details of an optimally designed UBI blueprint. First, how much are we talking about? In the United States, I suggest starting with the definition of poverty we already use, and eliminating poverty entirely. According to 2017 federal poverty guidelines, this means if we were to pass legislation tomorrow, it would need to be $12,060 per adult citizen and $4,180 per dependent under 18. The amount for kids is imperative so that income floors scale according to household sizes. A child basic income is also in large part a revenue neutral consolidation of existing expenditures presently unequally distributed. However, for reasons I will explain below, I suggest adding 10% to each amount, so $13,266 ($1,105/mo) per adult citizen and $4,598 ($383/mo) per citizen under 18.

Price-Gouging Rx Companies To Get $28 Billion Tax Break In GOP Health Plan

Newly leaked TPP text "is clearly intended to cater to the interests of the pharmaceutical industry," writes Dr. Deborah Gleeson in her analysis. (Photo: ep_jhu/flickr/cc)

By Will Rice for Americans for Tax Fairness – Pharmaceutical companies are among the biggest offshore tax dodgers. Three drug firms—Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck—are among the top 10 American corporations stashing earnings offshore to avoid U.S. taxes. Pfizer (maker of Celebrex, Lipitor, and Viagra) alone has some $200 billion in profits parked offshore, much of it presumably in tax havens. Gilead Sciences and Amgen each has around $37 billion offshore, apparently all of it in tiny nations where little or no tax is due. (American corporations owe U.S. taxes on all their worldwide profits each year, but a giant loophole lets multinationals indefinitely delay paying on profits booked offshore.) A big chunk of Gilead’s stashed profits came from hepatitis cures priced so high that hundreds of thousands of patients went untreated even as the federal government was laying out billions of dollars a year for Gilead’s drugs. Last year, Pfizer tried to renounce its American identity in order to dodge $35 billion in U.S. taxes, even though it’s prospered here for over 150 years and gets about a billion dollars annually in federal contracts.

Seattle Mayor, 2 City Council Members Propose City Income Tax On The Rich

57276fbb160000e40031d496

By Staff and Matt Lorch for Q13 FOX News – SEATTLE — Mayor Ed Murray and City Council members Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold on Monday proposed a new tax on high-income households. The proposal would place a 2 percent tax on joint filers’ income over $500,000 and single tax filers’ income over $250,000. They said the estimated $125 million in new annual revenue would allow the city to lower the burden associated with property taxes and other regressive taxes, replace federal funding potentially lost through President Donald Trump’s budget cuts and enhance public services such as housing, education and transit. Seattle income tax? “Washington state’s tax structure is the most regressive in the country, putting the burden on many of our most vulnerable residents,” Murray said. “Leaving cities with only regressive tax options puts the heaviest burden on working people, families and communities of color. By replacing a system that relies too heavily on property and sales taxes with a progressive income tax, we can ease that burden and generate revenue to invest in Seattle priorities…” Sawant said, “I ran for office four years ago on a program of a $15 per hour minimum wage, to tax the rich, and for rent control.

Massachusetts To Vote On Taxing The Wealthy

Screenshot 2017-06-19 at 7.04.06 AM

By Staff of MTA – The Massachusetts Legislature, meeting in a Constitutional Convention, has approved sending the proposed Fair Share Amendment to the November 2018 state ballot. The legislators’ vote of 134-55 on Wednesday, June 14, was the second by a Constitutional Convention on the measure, as is required for amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. The citizens’ initiative would create an additional 4 percent tax on annual income over $1 million. The tax would raise almost $2 billion a year for public education and transportation. To ensure that the tax would be applied only to the highest-income residents, the $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases. MTA President Barbara Madeloni said that the amendment is needed because “our public schools and colleges are drastically underfunded.” “We have many communities in need of free high-quality prekindergarten,” she continued. “We need to make sure that arts, athletics and cultural activities are available to students no matter where they live — and we cannot let cost be a hurdle to students looking to pursue higher education in our public colleges and universities. It’s time to give the voters public education funding that is sufficient to meet the needs of all of our students.”

Trump Puts Forward Tax Plan For Ultra Rich & Big Business

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left) and National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn introduced the Trump administration's tax plan on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Decrying Trump’s proposal as “a very big step in precisely the wrong direction,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair wrote of the pass-through tax cut that “it will help private equity managers and people like President Trump: wealthy people who will now be able to reconfigure their taxes by reclassifying themselves as independent contractors. This isn’t theory, this is exactly what happened in Kansas.” In that state, Blair elaborated in a separate post on Wednesday, establishing a pass-through loophole led to “even more lost tax revenue.” Another aspect of Trump’s plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, which was established to ensure that the super-rich are not able to use loopholes to escape their tax liability altogether. Trump’s 2005 tax return showed that for that year, “he paid 25 percent of $153 million in taxable income instead of the less than 4 percent that he would have paid without” the AMT, as the New York Times reported when the return was released last month. Cohn also announced that the administration’s proposal would repeal the so-called “estate tax” on holdings transferred from deceased people to their heirs.

How Tax Policy Created The 1%

As chair of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and then of the NYSE, Emil Schram (pictured at right, 1939) helped shape tax policy to serve his peers (Library of Congress)

By Julia Ott for Dissent – Last Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters across the country joined the Tax March, although most realized Trump won’t divulge anything about his taxes unless Congress or the courts take action. So we may never know the truth about Trump’s income and charitable contributions, about the conflicts of interest and the “emoluments” from foreign powers. Trump’s already said a lot about his taxes. In the first presidential debate, he famously boasted that his ostensibly legal tax avoidance strategies prove he’s “smart“—and by extension, so are the rest of the rich who do likewise. With Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress, the stage is set for massive tax cuts to reward those brilliant members of the 1 percent—unless popular ire over Trump’s tax filings can be translated into demands for tax justice. Polls suggest that Americans won’t stomach a tax plan that will enrich the rich at the expense of the rest. In 2016 Gallup found that 61 percent of Americans agreed that “upper income people” paid “too little” in taxes. And a majority (52 percent) concurred that “our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.”

Where Your Dollars Are Going: Why Some Antiwar Activists Are Withholding Taxes

Antiwar activists fed up with seeing 23 percent of their income taxes go toward US warmongering are refusing to pay. (Image: JR / TO; Adapted: Lance Cpl. Clare J. Shaffer / US Marine Corps, Pixabay)

By Lindsay Koshgarian for Truthout – Among the marches, petitions and call-in campaigns that comprise much of the Trump resistance movement, one resistance tactic gets little attention: withholding taxes. As the US seems ready to slide into yet another Middle East war in Syria while preparing for massive cuts to government programs at home, what role does tax resistance play in opposing regressive and violent policies? While being anti-tax is typically associated with conservatism, there is a small but longstanding tradition within the progressive movement of withholding taxes — specifically, war taxes. How does tax resistance work, and does it result in a lack of support for government programs that most progressives support and would like to see grow? How much of our taxes go to war, the military and militarism anyway, and how much to worthy programs like education, aid for struggling families, the environment and more Paying income taxes may not usually spur introspection, but it might if Americans realized that, for example, they are working 27 days out of every year to pay taxes that support war profiteers.

Tax Day Protests Highlight Refusal To Pay For War

1taxresist

By National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. From now through the last day to file federal income taxes on Tuesday, April 18, hundreds of people across the United States are taking public action to call for a change in federal budget priorities away from military spending and toward human and environmental needs. Individually and in groups, many of these concerned activists will divest from war by refusing to pay some or all of their federal income taxes. “Survival demands better ideas, not better weapons,” say members of the Raytheon Peacemakers, who will hold an urgent peace vigil on Tax Day, April 18, at the gates of Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. Raytheon stock prices climbed after their missiles struck targets in Syria on April 6. Jack Cohen-Joppa of the Peacemakers says, “Our federal and local taxes have supported the expansion of this plant to produce weapons that are Tucson’s largest export. Tucson needs good paying jobs, but we should not ‘develop’ our own community by destroying others around the world.”

Why Tax Resistance Under Trump Needs Its Antiwar Edge

Anti-Trump protesters in Chicago hold signs calling on Trump to release his taxes if he wants the public to pay theirs. (Twitter / @JoshuaMellin)

By Frida Berrigan for Common Dreams – There have always been fights about taxes — stretching back to the crates of over-taxed tea tossed into the Boston Harbor and a thoughtful man’s night in jail for refusing to pay taxes in the slave-holding state of Massachusetts. This country’s long history of tax resistance stretches from the American Revolution to the religious non-cooperation of groups like the Mennonites and the Quakers to the movement to abolish slavery to resistance to every war fought in the 20th century. Following in the footsteps of this history and the example of Henry David Thoreau, there have always been a principled few who refuse to pay all or part of their federal taxes as an expression of their pacifism, or as a way of opposing specific policies. And there have always been demonstrations on April 15.

A Tax Plan Only A One Percenter Could Love

image

By Josh Hoxie for Other Words – After the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the Trump administration has set its sights on its next big project: so-called “tax reform.” And the “reform” they seek appears guaranteed to elicit disdain from all sides — with the notable exception of the ultra-wealthy. Let’s first acknowledge that tax reform is hard. The system is held in place by entrenched interests who don’t want to see their favorite loopholes taken away. That’s a big reason why it’s been over 30 years since the last major tax overhaul, championed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. Adding to the complexity of tax reform is the fact that all of the White House people working on it are resplendently wealthy

The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth

Protester Bob Bowes, of Somerville, Mass., displays an American flag featuring corporate logos outside a meeting of U.S. elites in Boston. (Steven Senne / AP)

By Staff of ITEP – “This study is a long-term, unprecedented examination of corporation taxes paid—or not paid—by the nation’s biggest, most profitable firms,” said Matthew Gardner, an ITEP senior fellow and lead author of the report. “It reveals that many of the big corporations that are lobbying for a lower corporate tax rate to be more ‘competitive’ already pay substantially less than the 35 percent statutory rate.” The study examines eight years of data on federal income taxes paid by Fortune 500 firms that provided sufficient, reliable information in their financial reports to allow calculation of their effective U.S. and foreign tax rates.