Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today filed a lawsuit to protect New York and its taxpayers from Washington’s drastic curtailment of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. The lawsuit, which was joined by Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey, argues that the new SALT cap was enacted to target New York and similarly situated states, that it interferes with states’ rights to make their own fiscal decisions, and that it will disproportionately harm taxpayers in these states.
Accusing the federal government of engaging in a host of un-American actions – ranging from Zero Tolerance for immigrants seeking asylum, to pushing oil and gas drilling off coasts, to the failure of the Trump Administration to sufficiently protect elections and critical infrastructure against cyberattacks by Russia and other foreign adversaries- he cited the tax reform act’s SALT provision as “un-American.”
“Put aside the philosophy and the top 1 percent getting 80 percent of the benefits, the so-called SALT provision was un-American. What you did was you divided the states, you penalized the democratic states.”
In a phone conference call with the press, Cuomo said that the lawsuit is being filed in the district court of the Southern District of New York, and seeks declaratory judgment that it is unconstitutional and injunctive relief.
“There are three causes of action that the lawsuit will lay out. The first one is that it’s a violation of the Tenth Amendment which was ratified in 1791. The Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from invading the sovereign tax authority of the states. Remember, the founding fathers who they loved to quote, these are co-equal sovereign the federal government and the states. That was the basis of the Constitution.
“And the Tenth Amendment prohibited the federal government from invading a state’s tax authority. And that’s what they did by their own admission. Secretary Mnuchin said, the purpose of the law was ‘to send a message to the state governments that they have to get their budgets in line.’ Ted Cruz said, ‘we want to get states to lower their taxes.
Paul Ryan said the same thing. This was their attempt to manipulate state governments.
The second cause of action is that it’s a violation of the 16th Amendment that was ratified in 1913, which states the federal government may not exercise its power to tax individual incomes without providing for deduction of state and local taxes. Alexander Hamilton was cited: “the individual states would under the proposed Constitution retain an independent and uncontrollable authority to raise revenue to any extend of which they may stand in need. By every kind of taxation except duties on imports and exports.” James Madison said, “the state’s status as co-equal sovereigns provided security against interference from the federal government.”
The third cause of action is a violation of Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution that says, ‘the Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, impose excises to pay debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare, but it may not use its tax and spending authorities to exert a power akin to undue influence over the states or coerce the states into adopting policies preferred by the federal government.’ That goes back to case law to 1937.
Cuomo cited Abraham Lincoln when he passed the first federal income tax—the Revenue Act of 1862— “state and local taxes shall first be deducted to determine a taxpayer’s liability for the federal income taxes.” Justin Morrill in 1862, stated”‘as a matter of simple logic, the deduction is necessary to avoid both double taxation and the principle of federalism.” It also goes to the principle of federalism.
“This is their political attempt to hurt Democratic states,” Cuomo stated. “It is totally repugnant and hypocritical of the fundamental conservative ideology which they preach—the limited federal government, respect state rights. This tramples on their own theory. And it is politically motivated. And it was politically targeted. Steven Moore, the conservative economist who advised the Trump campaign, said the Republican tax bill represents death to the Democrats.
“This is not what our Founding Fathers intended. They did not intend for the federal government to manipulate or politically retaliate against states. It’s violative of the fundamental relationship between the federal government and the states. It is un-American, like what the president did with Putin yesterday, like what they did in Puerto Rico, like what they’ve done on immigration, like what they’ve done on trampling women’s rights. It is un-American. Not just repugnant to this state. Repugnant to the Constitution and the values of the American people.”
The 2017 federal tax law, “which resulted from a hyper-partisan and rushed process,” drastically reduced the deduction by capping it at $10,000. An analysis by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance shows that the cap will increase New Yorkers’ federal taxes by $14.3 billion in 2018 alone, and an additional $121 billion between 2019 and 2025. As set forth in the complaint, the law flies in the face of centuries of precedent, which establishes constitutional limits on the federal government’s ability to use its tax power to interfere with the sovereign authority of the states.
For the entire history of the United States, every federal income tax law protected the sovereign interests of the states by providing a deduction for all or a significant portion of state and local taxes. This uninterrupted history demonstrates that the unprecedented cap on the SALT deduction is unconstitutional, as the lawsuit notes. This new, drastic curtailment of the SALT deduction has both the purpose and effect of harming New York, other similarly situated states, and their residents. Among other things, the new cap will depress home prices, spending, and business sales, and result in slower growth for the New York economy and fewer jobs.
Countering the impression that New York is the highest taxed state in the country, Cuomo said, “The large tax in New York is not state income tax, it’s local taxes – that’s what they are targeting. We have people who pay more in property ax than income tax – if those jump 30% after we capped them with first proper tax cap in history, you will see home values go down, real estate values come down, because it will make this jurisdiction must more expensive, and there may be people right on margin. This is not a theoretical political argument, this is real life.
“Ask your neighbor if property taxes go up 30 percent, what will you do? That’s why we did the property tax cap in first place – 2% year over year – this would be 30 percent bump in property taxes, and if you see real estate values come down, we will have a problem with banks, funding for school districts, and have potential devastating consequences. That’s why wanted to move on expeditious basis.
“This state has been fiscally responsible. That’s undeniable. Our credit rating up, spending increases are at record lows, efficiency up. This is a different point: it’s not for fed government to determine local taxation. That is fundamental Constitutional point.
“We think they are doing it out of political intent. If they want to talk about reduce taxes, give us back the $48 billion they take from us – we are the highest Donor State in the nation. We have been since Moynihan railed against it. We give them $48 billion more than we get back. If you really want us to reduce taxes, give it back and I will reduce taxes.
“They set up two sets of rules,” Governor Cuomo asserted, “One for Republican states, one for Democratic states. If we can’t deduct, state and local taxes [effectively] go up 30 percent. We depend heavily on property taxes to fund local governments.”
The lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was led by Attorney General Underwood and joined by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey, is against the United States, the IRS and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin as defendants.
Cuomo held out the possibility of other states, such as California, joining the suit. “We are forming a coalition, but time is of the essence.”
“New York will not be bullied. This cap is unconstitutional – going well beyond settled limits on federal power to impose an income tax, while deliberately targeting New York and similar states in an attempt to coerce us into changing our fiscal policies and the vital programs they support,” said Attorney General Underwood. “We will not allow partisans in Washington to hurt our people or interfere with our policies. We’ve filed suit against this unconstitutional attack on New York and our state’s fundamental rights — because we won’t stand by and let Washington pick the pockets of New Yorkers.”
“It was a number and a tax selected to effect what they wanted,” Cuomo charged. “You think it was a coincidence that it impacted 12 states, all Democratic, all states Trump lost, all that don’t have Republican representative in Congress? .. That puts democratic states on different footing. That’s why I’ve said this is economic civil war – red versus blue, Democratic versus Republican, and penalizing those states. But these are co-equal sovereigns. The federal government can’t do whatever want. It has a right to tax, and we have right to tax, I can’t interfere with the federal right to tax, and the federal government can’t interfere with our right to tax, and where they drew this line, arbitrary, because it had the desired effect.”
Enacted Budget Includes Optional Payroll-Tax System, New Funds for Charitable Donations, and Legislation to De-Couple from the Federal Tax Code – Summary of Reforms Available Here
Coordinated Response Provides Alternatives to the Devastating Federal Assault; SALT Limitations Cost New York Taxpayers $14.3 Billion
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today recognized Tax Day with the signing of legislation to protect New Yorkers from tax increases brought about by the federal tax reforms. These changes to the state tax code will help preserve New York’s economic competitiveness and protect state and local tax deductibility – a basic tenet of tax law that has been part of the modern federal income tax since it was created. The legislation provides new options for tax deductible charitable donations, creates a new Employer Compensation Expense Program so that employers can help their employees maximize deductibility, and decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid state tax increases brought solely by increases in federal taxes.
“New York will not stand idle while the federal government takes aim at the economic heart of our communities and takes from the hardworking men and women of this state to benefit this country’s wealthy and corporations,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bill ensure protections for New Yorkers against Washington’s targeted attack and we will continue to lead this fight and do everything we can to protect the rights and wallets of families across New York.”
The legislation signed today enacts a series of reforms to the New York State tax code designed to protect New York residents from the adverse impacts of the recently enacted federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These changes follow a report issued by the Department of Taxation and Finance in January 2018 that outlines several measures for the state to consider in order to mitigate these negative impacts. After further study and extensive consultation with experts from state and local government, academia, and the private sector, the proposed reforms were found to be viable options for protecting New Yorkers and were included in the Executive Budget and, ultimately, passed by the legislature. Specifically, the FY 2019 Budget takes the following steps:
Promotes State Charitable Contributions to Benefit New Yorkers: The FY 2019 Budget creates a new state-operated Charitable Contribution Fund to accept donations for the purposes of improving health care and public education in New York State. Taxpayers who itemize deductions may claim these charitable contributions as deductions on their federal and state tax returns. Any taxpayer making a donation may also claim a state tax credit equal to 85 percent of the donation amount for the tax year after the donation is made. Taxpayers may also make qualified contributions to certain not-for-profit organizations for specified purposes.
Authorizes Local Government to Establish Local Charitable Funds: The FY 2019 Budget authorizes local governments to establish charitable gift reserve funds and to offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. Under the law, such funds may receive unrestricted charitable contributions for the purposes of addressing education, health care, and other charitable purposes. This is an optional program available to counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. Local governments and school districts may also establish charitable funds and offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. These funds will help support vital government activities while also helping preserve the tax deductibility that our tax system was built on.
Establishes the Alternative Employer Compensation Expense Program: The FY 2019 Budget creates new ways for employers to help their employees with their federal tax bill. While Federal tax reform eliminated full state and local tax deductibility for individuals, businesses were spared from these limitations. Under this program, employers will be able to opt-in to a new Employer Compensation Expense Program structure. Employers that opt-in will be subject to a 5 percent tax on all annual payroll expenses in excess of $40,000 per employee, phased in over three years beginning on January 1, 2019. The progressive personal income tax system will remain in place, and a new tax credit corresponding in value to the ECEP will cut the personal income tax on wages and ensure that State filers subject to the ECEP will not experience a decline in take-home pay. The program is designed to be revenue neutral for the state. Employers would also not be adversely impacted, but they’d be giving their employees the opportunity to reduce their federal taxes.
De-Couples from the Federal Tax Code: The state tax code is closely aligned with the federal tax code. This legislation decouples the state tax code from the federal tax code, where necessary, to avoid more than $1.5 billion in State tax increases brought solely by increases in Federal taxes.
The new federal law disproportionally and adversely impacts New York State, which already sends $48 billion more each year to Washington than it receives in federal dollars. According to a recent report released by the State Department of Tax and Finance, the elimination of full SALT deductibility alone will cost New York an additional $14.3 billion.
“These reforms to our State tax code are the result of collaborations between state agencies, working with many tax professionals, businesses, and experts,” State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica, Jr. said. “This legislation will protect New York’s taxpayers, our State Budget, and our economic competitiveness.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “In Westchester County most residents pay more than $10,000 a year in taxes. These taxes are for schools, local government and state government. The last federal budget robbed Westchester – and our residents’ way of life was threatened. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this creative plan to help county taxpayers, and Legislators for recognizing how imperative this issue is. We support it, and will do everything in our power to implement it.”
“Today is tax day, and New Yorker’s will again send billions more to Washington than our state will get back in the form of federal funding. As a sovereign state, it is critically important that we do whatever we can to protect the income of our taxpayers, and we applaud Governor Cuomo and state legislators for advancing legislation to do just that,” New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said,
New York State Conference of Mayors Executive Director Peter A. Baynes said,
“NYCOM greatly appreciates Governor Cuomo’s proactive leadership in offering an option to mitigate the harm inflicted upon New York’s communities and their residents with the new cap on state and local tax deductions. Working collaboratively with NYCOM and other groups, the Governor and the State Legislature have enacted viable options for New Yorkers to avoid increases in taxes, decreases in home values, and reductions in essential municipal services. We look forward to working with the Administration to successfully implement this program.”
These changes to the state tax code are part of Governor Cuomo’s multi-pronged effort to fight the federal tax assault. Along with the Governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, Governor Cuomo announced a coalition to sue the federal government. The new law effectively preempts the states’ ability to govern by reducing the ability to provide for their own citizens and unfairly targets New York and similarly situated states in violation of the Constitution.
During a press call previewing Donald Trump’s “closing message to the American people” about the glories of the Republican tax plan supported by less than 25% of Americans, Trump’s leading “messagers” – the people charged with making the deal palatable – had to “research” the American Dream, as if they had never heard of the concept before:
“At the president’s direction, we did research into the concept of American Dream,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Tony Sayegh. “It is interesting what we found, where the concept came from and what it meant. And part was that in the United States, you were not destined to die in the same income class you were born into, children were not destined to have same quality of life that you had, people had the ability to rise. This was unique thing in world history. Most of the world, most of history, born in a certain class and died in that class, children were born and died in same economic class. America [brought the] idea of economic opportunity for all.”
But now, he said with dubious accuracy because this same criticism has arisen since the Reagan “Revolution”, if he in fact bothered to research, “for first time in American history, parents no longer think their children will be better off. …We will bring back the American spirit, that’s what president likes to talk about it. Consumer confidence is at all time high. That kind of optimism is at the core of the message.”
He asserted, “We’re nearing a historic moment in which we will decide the economic future of the nation. We have the power to reject [the notion] that 2% growth is the new normal and the majority of Americans for first time in history will lose faith that next generation will do better…[We want an] economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy and well connected….Ultimately message will be that middle class will no longer just be getting by, finally have the opportunity to get ahead, and that’s what will Make America Great Again.”
When asked about the scores of economists and experts who have challenged the theory that the tax cuts to the wealthiest and corporations will trickle down to working people, that the cumulative impact of the tax plan will hurt working class and middle class Americans, upset the very mechanisms that promote the American Dream (education, health care, home ownership), that it will result in $1.5 trillion added to the national debt which will result in cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and that large majority of Americans oppose the tax plan, White House message strategy director Cliff Sims went on the attack:
”I encourage you to spend a little less time reading [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer’s talking points, and more time reading the plan [which has yet to be finalized or scored]. This plan offers a lot for the middle class…. [The plan] substantially increased child tax credit, $1000 now to $1600 or $2000; nearly doubles standard deduction so a married couple can take $24,000 tax free and more if they itemize; it lowers the tax rate so more income is taxed at lower rates… Quite frankly anyone who says otherwise is purposefully disingenuous or taking a partisan line that doesn’t meet the reality.”
Sayegh added, “Analysis and studies. The Council of Economic Advisors reported a month ago clearly demonstrates what we are doing on corporate side helps workers, because workers absorb the greatest burden when corporate taxes are high… We know that through analysis, the average worker gets anywhere $4000-$9000.. after policies implemented – because there is a more productive and investment-friendly environment when corporations can compete with significantly lower rate. It is a benefit to hardworking Americans, the American worker.”
Asked where was the analysis that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said “over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us,,” Sims said that Treasury “in very rare instances will ever release analysis of a bill that has not already been voted on and passed because as anyone who has followed process understands, there are two bills – House, Senate –there are differences between them and a final bill will be voted on.”
Sayegh also pushed back against polling which shows the vast majority of Americans believe the tax plan substantially favors the wealthy over working people, pointing to rolling back the estate tax and eliminating the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), by which Trump in 2005, in the only 2 pages of his tax returns revealed to the public, shows that he would have saved $30 million in tax payments but for the AMT.
“We’ve poured through this from a lot of angles, political strategy and public opinion. It is abundantly clear that almost every poll nationally cited – CBS, Quinnipiac, Marist – is deliberately trying to shake and manipulate public opinion and not accurately reflect it. Quinnipiac uses a methodology where only 20% of respondents are Republican, 33% are Democrats, 38% are independents –a preposterous formula. Negative of 12% between Democrats and Republicans is not close to reality – so does not reflect public opinion.”
Sims added “The more people learn about specifics, the more they love it. 61% to 21% supported it after learning we are doubling the standard deduction from $12 to $24K, 54% support only 14% oppose the child tax credit, 54% support only 18% oppose after being informed of basic provisions. Does anyone on the planet not believe Americans don’t want lower taxes, a fairer corporate tax rate that will create more jobs and higher wages? When polls get into specifics…support goes through the roof. When you have polls that try to manipulate, push questions, you get numbers you can put in Chiron or story to manipulate public opinion, but not reflect what Americans feel.”
Except that polling only specific, popular provisions (who doesn’t want higher standard deduction), does not put the whole picture into view: the higher premiums likely to come when the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act is eliminated; the personhood provision; drilling in the Arctic National Refuge; taxing graduate school fellowships as income; eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes and significantly limiting the mortgage interest deduction, and adding more than $1 trillion to the national debt, which will trigger cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, curtail investment and infrastructure spending.
And no one has asked where the $300 billion to pay for disaster relief just from the 2017 climate catastrophes will come from, or why the Republicans have refused to reauthorize CHIP, which provides access to health care for 9 million children and pregnant mothers.
“Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform?(Applause.)And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.) So we’re going to go into welfare reform…”
This is supposedly the season of “giving,” of “good will to all mankind.” Not with Donald Trump in the White House.
Trump is so giddy to take credit for displacing “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas.” That’s all he cares about. But just as Trump, who makes money off of hotels but has no concept of “hospitality” and is more like the craven Snidely Whiplash than Barron Hilton, he has no clue and no care what “Christmas” means.
Indeed, this Christmas, 9 million children and pregnant women are losing access to health care and the ability to live a good life or realize their full potential. 13 million Americans don’t know if they will be able to afford or access health care. 800,000 Dreamers don’t know whether they will be thrown out of jobs, housing, and the nation, exiled to a country that is completely foreign to them. Seniors and retirees don’t know if they will be able to continue to afford living in their homes and whether their Medicare and Social Security benefits will be cut.
The Tax Scam rammed through by Republicans is just the beginning: they are giddy about how adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the same amount (coincidentally) that it redistributes from working people to the already obscenely rich and richest corporations sitting on $2 trillion in cash they refuse to use to raise wages will “justify” slashing the social safety net, cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid – you know the so-called “entitlements” that working people have paid into their entire working lives.
Trump made it clear, in his ignorant, short-hand way, what will come next, in his speech in St. Louis:
“Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history…I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.) So we’re going to go into welfare reform.”
You only have to look at what is happening in every quarter of civic life which is shifting the balance to the wealthiest while cutting off upward mobility for anyone else. The Trump FCC’s plan to overturn net neutrality is exactly that: it cements the control that the internet oligopoly wields not only to keep out upstart competitors but control what information or culture gets wide viewing. What Pai wants is for money to rule both content and access (that’s what “free market” means). Don’t have money to keep an internet subscription so you can access news, information or jobs? Tough luck. But the FCC intends to couple this with more government surveillance of what goes up over the Internet – quite literally the worst of both worlds.
It is apparent also in how Trump is pawning off national monuments to commercial exploitation – Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Arctic Refuge and the Atlantic Marine Sanctuary – basically stealing what is our collective heritage and birthright to give to commercial interests. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has no compunction to waste taxpayer money for his own use, is even raising admission fees to the national parks, further putting what is owned by all Americans off limits for those who can’t pay the freight.
Money is the new “entitlement.” It determines who can afford to weigh the scales of justice in their favor, and, thanks to Citizens United, who runs for election and wins, and therefore what policy gets written and enacted, and even who has access to the voting booth. Billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins actually said that out loud: “But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?” Indeed.
This mentality is actually seeping down even into the disasters that have become all too common and catastrophic because of climate change: Freakonomics did a segment that a free market rather than anti-gouging laws should come into play after a disaster. A shopkeeper should be able to sell a bottle of water for $1000 to the father with a child dying of thirst if he wants to, because at $2 a bottle, someone will hoard. (The absurdity is that purchases are rationed for the rich and the poor.)
Another segment suggested that people should be able to pay their way (a premium) to jump a line – that’s okay for a themepark, but they are suggesting the same for access to life-saving organ donation.
Trump is the first president to dare do what the Republicans have been salivating over since the New Deal but dared not do. It’s not that the Republicans haven’t had their sights set on reversing every progressive policy since the 1860s. (Alabama Senate candidate, the defrocked judge Roy Moore, said that every Amendment after the 10th, the state’s rights one, should be abolished, including the 13th amendment ending slavery, 14th amendment giving due process, the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. Meanwhile, the Republicans are about to cancel the 10th amendment’s State’s Rights provision in order to require New York State to accept Conceal Carry Reciprocity and overturn its own gun safety laws.)
You actually have Senator Chuck Grassley defending abolishing the estate tax which affects only a tiny fraction of the wealthiest families and was intended since the founding to prevent an institutionalized aristocracy, argue that the previous tax code favors poor and working-class Americans who were “just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
Utah’s Orrin Hatch, justifying shifting $1.5 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and slashing the social safety net, declared, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.”
Merry Christmas? Bah humbug.
“And so how do we as Christians respond, who serve a God whose prophets call for welcoming immigrants (Deuteronomy, Leviticus), caring for the orphans and widows (Jeremiah, Ezekiel), establishing fair housing (Isaiah), seeking justice (Micah 6), and providing health care (Isaiah),” a twitter conversation between MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Susan Gilbert Zencka wrote.
“What you’re witnessing tonight in the United States Senate is the weaponization of pure, unmitigated greed,” Joy Reid wrote after the Senate’s adoption of its tax plan. “Lobbyists are writing the bill in pen at the last minute. And Republicans are no longer even pretending to care about anyone but the super rich,“ wrote Joy Reid.
The America that Trump and the Republicans envision is not one of an American Dream where anyone who has the ability and works hard enough can rise up, but one in which communities must beg billionaires for funding for a public school, a library, a hospital, and be very grateful for their charity.
Tell me how this is not a modern, nonfiction version of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.”
Governors of New York and California and the Governor-Elect of New Jersey and California joined forces to condemn the Republican tax plan as a “stake in the heart” of the nation’s economic engine, a cynical ploy to punish Democratic-majority states, and only the first-step toward generating such an increase in the national debt to justify cuts in Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, CHIP and other social programs, and threatened to challenge the legality of elements of the tax plan should it become law.
In a joint press call, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Jerry Brown and New Jersey Governor-Elect Phil Murphy and using phrases such as “evil,” “nefarious” and “cynical,” raised issues of the legality of elements of the Republican tax plan, which shifts $1.5 trillion in wealth from middle class and working families to the wealthy – indeed, 50% of the tax cuts go directly into the pocket of the top 1% – through lowered tax rates, elimination of the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), reductions if not elimination in the Estate Tax (which only impacts 2 out of 1000 families now), and new rules enabling the wealthiest to shelter tax through pass-throughs.
But the Republicans pay for the cuts by largely eliminating or significantly reducing the deductibility of state and local taxes, including property taxes, effectively double-taxing, something that has not existed since income taxes were first implemented in 1913, which disproportionately targets 12 states that happen to vote Democratic and also happen to be the donor states that account for 40% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). A similar effort during the 1986 Reagan tax reform effort was defeated by both Republicans and Democrats. The governors say this may be challenged as unconstitutional double-taxation.
Other provisions, such as establishing a legal framework for “personhood” may also be challenged as unconstitutional.
The way the Republican tax plan is structured, it shifts wealth from the 12 “donor” (Democratic-majority) states, to the rest of the country, by eliminating or dramatically reducing the tax deductibility of state and local taxes, including property taxes. In effect, it makes those states structurally uncompetitive by effectively increasing taxes by 20-25 percent for homeowners, may reduce home values by that amount, as well as make it difficult for schools (which account for 60-65% of New Yorkers’ property taxes and 40% of California’s) to raise the revenue they need to property function. But while individuals lose the deductibility of SALT, corporations do not.
In a further blow to public education and stripping away of the separation of Church & State, the Republicans would allow the tax-exempt 529 funds, created to fund college, to be used for K-12 education for parochial and private schools, even homeschooling. (This is on top of repealing the Johnson Amendment, opening floodgates of “charitable” contributions to religious institutions to become political PACs; a particularly insidious breach of the Constitution’s Establishment clause because the religious leader preaching from the pulpit has a special ability to coerce.
The governors held at the hope that the wildly unpopular Congress (only 13% approval) and the most unpopular president in history (33% approval), will recognize the tax plan is similarly wildly unpopular, with barely 20% support, and that Republican Congressmen who have to stand for election in 2018, will do what is best for their constituents.
The Senate version, which eliminates the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), would result in 13 million more people without health insurance by 2025, and 10 percent annual increases in premiums on everyone else.
The bill also “pays” for the tax cuts to the richest Americans and corporations by eliminating the deductibility of student loan interest, tax credits for renewable energy, and opens the way for drilling in the Arctic National Refuge, and other provisions which help the upward mobility of working families and middle class striving to achieve the American Dream.
The governors held out a glimmer of hope that enough of the Republicans (the only ones who voted in favor of the tax plan) would vote for their constituents’ interests.
“The tax plan that passed Senate, the House, and is headed to reconciliation, is a long way from done. It is a fraud on the American people. They talk about tax cuts for middle class and working people, but what it is, is tax cut for the rich – 50% of the tax cuts go to the top 1%. That’s an inarguable fact. Their theory isn’t new or novel. It’s ‘trickle down’ on steroids.” He argued that instead of corporations taking their tax cuts to raise wages for workers or create more jobs through investment, corporations in the past have pocketed the extra cash or used it to buy back stock (raising the share prices) or paying dividends.
“To add insult to injury,” Cuomo said. “the tax cut is then targeted at 12 states that happen to be Blue States where they target eliminating state and local deductions. People don’t understand what that will do, but it will be devastating for states. In essence, it is an increase in property taxes and state income tax only on those 12 states. It puts us at a structurally competitive disadvantage because structurally our taxes will be higher.” That gives residents additional complaint about their government (Republicans even now charge that New York’s taxes are high because of mismanagement, or lavish spending on services). Cuomo countered the claim by Republicans that the poorer states somehow subsidize the public services of the richer states. New York, California and New Jersey are donor states, which means we put more into the [federal] till than we take out. This aggravates and enhances the injustice where we are subsidizing the other states, and now you’re using New York and New Jersey as a piggybank to finance tax cuts in other states.
“That amounts to political retaliation through the tax code. That’s why they passed it with only their own votes,” Cuomo charged.
California Governor Jerry Brown assailed the Republican tax plan saying, “the most immediate evil of this cynical maneuver called the tax bill is to further divide America when we are at one of our most divisive periods in history. The idea that a president and representatives only in the majority would use that power to penalize 12 states – most of which voted strongly against this president– is not going to bring country together. We are divided while some of our most important competitors are getting more unified, authoritarian. We need to come together. This will further divide blue states from red, Democrats from Republicans. It is evil in the extreme. It exacerbates inequality….It’s not right. It won’t stand.”
New Jersey Governor-Elect Philip Murphy further expounded on the devastating impact in terms of widening inequality and continuing down the awful path of us vs Washington leadership.
“It is based on the trickle down theory, which we have seen time and again doesn’t work. Executives get paid better, the gap between the top of corporate food chain and bottom widens; shareholders benefit from buybacks while working people are neglected. It is a scam at the ultimate extreme. On more than one occasion we all heard, when asked for the rationale, the awful answer [from Republicans] was ‘it is our donors, our donor base will dry up if we don’t.’ We saw the chaos Friday night, literally lobbyists hand-writing in pen, amending the bill. This is as bad as it gets.
“But in a ‘glass half full’ sense, as Governor Cuomo stated, It’s not over yet. This is the ninth inning. Each of our states have Republican House members. This is beyond Republican, Democrat; it is a clear question of whether you are representing the constituents who elected you. Black & white.”
“The changes in the SALT deduction, are particularly problematic, Murphy said. “That’s been part of the tax code since income tax became legal in 1913. For over 100 years, Congress realized taxing people twice is unfair. We are the biggest odnor states in terms of the federal money we give. This will only make it worse.
“The stronger we are together, the more numbers, the more locked arms, we fight together as a team. There is a lot to be said for that. I am honored to be with you.”
Asked what actions, beyond political pressure on Republican members of Congress, the governors might take, they said that just as the Republicans, the day after Obamacare was signed into law, pledged to repeal and replace, they would also take whatever means – even court challenges– to repeal and replace this tax law.
“We’re looking at the legality now. [SALT deductions] has been in the tax code since it started over 100 years ago. This is double taxation – they are taxing taxes, this from the party that’s against taxation, redistribution [or what Republicans used to condemn as “class warfare”]. This is redistribution in an exponential form –taking from richer states and subsidizing a tax cut in less wealthy states. Hypocritical. Everything they said were against: double-taxation, taxing tax for first time, redistribution state to state, so may well be illegal, unconstitutional. We’re looking at it.”
“There may be some legal action but this is a quintessentially political challenge,” Governor Brown stated. “Our job is to communicate the fraudulent and nefarious character of this tax bill – the way it proceeded, which John McCain said follows no normal pathway. We want to make sure our members of Congress know they are hurting New York, California, New Jersey but also hurting America. We are the key elements of America’s engine of prosperity, and when Trump and his allies attack New York, New Jersey, California, they are attacking the vital seams of the American economy. That’s stupid. They will regret it, and we will do everything we can to convince our Republican representatives that the right thing to do is defeat.
Murphy said they are working with state Attorneys General “to tear up all the floor boards, to the fullest extent of law, and challenge this. There are 500 pages of amendments, a lot handwritten. I am betting there are flaws, holes. If we don’t succeed in the next few days, we will have to take this to the limit.
“This is double taxation and I’m not sure it’s legal,” said Cuomo. “We will find out if it is. But Governor Brown’s point is that it is counterproductive. These 12 states are 40% of GDP. If you say this will help the American economy, how do you do that by assaulting 12 states that are 40% of GDP: this will be negative for our states and regional economies. No doubt about that.”
“Attacking the innovation of NY, CA, NJ and others is just a dumb move, only explained by the desperate situation the Republican leadership find themselves,” Governor Brown added. “This president is the most unpopular is history. They are riding a dead horse in this tax bill, acting irrationally, not in interest of country, throwing a wrench into engine of economy.”
“The more people understand, the more people understand how unfair, divisive and harmful it is to them individually,” Cuomo commented. “The problem is, there is so much news, so much happening. This is so complicated – elimination of state and local taxes but the more people understand it, the more they are against it. Congresspeople and Senators ultimately have to go home, and if they vote for this, they are voting against the interests of their constituents, and they have election next year. Ultimately democracy works. A congressperson who votes for this, there’s no going home again.
“I’m an optimist for the simple reason that we all believe in a different America than this bill articulates,” Murphy said. “The more people understand what’s in this thing, the more actively they push back. What it will do for higher education by repealing tax deduction for student loans, stripping credits for renewable energy, opening Arctic to drilling, on and on –repealing the individual mandate in ACA – the more people realize what’s at stake, the more collectively they say this can’t go forward.
Largely eliminating the SALT deductions, Cuomo said, contradicts the Republican claim their tax plan is supposed to spur the economy. “But targeting 40% of GDP, then saying that’s how you are going to spur economy, by putting arrow into economic heart of these 12 states? There are predictions it will drop the value of homes in our states because property taxes in effect will go up 20-25% over night. If you drop the value of homes, disrupt the whole financial system. Mortgage foreclosures. I don’t think they understand what they are doing.
“We talk about [eliminating SALT deductions] as if it were a new concept,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s not new. They proposed eliminating SALT during Reagan’s time. At that time, Democrats and Republicans both said it was wrong and defeated it. The difference now is the political extremism and their willingness to divide, and the political extremes they will go to.
“This is only step one of their plan – we know what their plan is, because not new, we’ve seen the playbook. Step one is tax cuts for the rich. Step 2, is to drive up the debt, the deficit, and then come back and say we have $1.5 trillion debt that we created (by cutting taxes for rich), and now we have this debt, we have to address it by cutting government spending. Where will they go? The right to Medicaid, healthcare for poor people. The right to CHIP for poor children, Right to housing programs, food stamps, etc. That’s inevitable. They are creating the debt that will then justify their philosophical step to cut government spending to hurt the poorest Americans.”
“Look at this in its entirety, beyond SALT,” Murphy added. “This is their way to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security. It is the height of hypocrisy from the so-called deficit hawks. Look at higher education and student loans, Obamacare individual mandate, Seen result of trickle down. Pass through. Taken in its entirety, the Republican tax plan is exceedingly damaging not just to our states, but entire country.”
“Republicans saw Obamacare passed and the next day they started Repeal & Replace,” Cuomo said. “If they do this, the next day, we will start the repeal and replace of the divisive Tax Act.”
None of them mentioned, but should have, the increasing pressures on the federal government for disaster relief from climate catastrophes (hundreds of billions of dollars in 2017 alone), the need to address the opioid crisis, and to rebuild and mitigate infrastructure.
I was watching “The President’s Show” Christmas special (Anthony Atamanuik does a brilliant impersonation of Donald Trump) and happened to switch back to MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s speech in Missouri in which he extolls how great the Republican tax plan is and quite frankly, could not tell the difference between which was the satire and which the actual speech. See for yourself: President Trump Tax Reform Speech In St Louis 11/29/17 – YouTube
Every fact checker has given Donald Trump’s speech at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri on the Republican tax cuts scheme four-Pinnochios, most especially for his absurd declarations that the proposed cuts would hurt him and his rich buddies. Here’s just a small sample:
Here is the White House transcript highlighted and annotated:
Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform
St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles, Missouri
2:22 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: I told you that we would be saying, merry Christmas again, right? (Applause.) And it’s great to be back in Missouri — a sign of a lot of good things because you’re doing really well.
And I want to thank Governor Greitens and Attorney General Hawley, who — by the way, Josh — where’s Josh? Josh, our next senator. Where is he? (Applause.) He’s going to be a great senator. And he wants to see a major tax cut. I think I can speak for him, right? (Applause.) And your current senator does not want to see a tax cut. That’s not good. That’s not good. She wants your taxes to go up.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Secretary Mnuchin, who’s doing such a fantastic job — (applause) — thank you — and Linda McMahon. Everybody knows Administrator — small business, became a big business under Linda. She’s helping a lot of people. Thank you very much, Linda. (Applause.)….
[Mnuchin claimed that he had a team of 100 specialists at US Treasury doing an analysis to show that the tax cuts would not add to national debt, now at $20 trillion. That was a lie – Treasury did not offer any analysis, but other nonpartisan and bipartisan agencies released reports that show that the Republican tax plan will add $1 trillion to the national debt and have only marginal benefit to increasing jobs, wages, or economic growth. What is more, the projections are “optimistic” and do not take into account the likelihood of a recession in the next decade.]
With your help, we can usher in a thrilling new era of opportunity and growth for this nation that we love so much. Tax cuts have already passed the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Big ones. Big ones. The eyes of the world now turn to the United States Senate.
A successful vote in the Senate this week will bring us one giant step closer to delivering an incredible victory for the American people. Massive tax cuts and reform. I don’t even mention the word reform because people don’t know exactly what we’re talking about.
You know, for years, they have not been able to get tax cuts — many, many years, since Reagan. And the problem was they talked about tax reform, not tax cuts. I said, don’t call it “reform,” call it “tax cuts and reform.” So every once in a while we’ll add the name “reform.” But it’s tax cuts.
[That’s true because it does not eliminate any of the loopholes that enable the wealthiest and biggest corporations to avoid paying taxes altogether; it only cuts taxes for the wealthiest, and makes up the lost revenue by taking away the credits and deductions that working class and middle class Americans use for home ownership, education, job training, and healthcare, for upward mobility.]
We cannot sit — (applause.) Right? The Governor agrees.
We cannot sit idly by and watch ourselves losing in competition to other countries as they continue to take away our jobs because their tax codes are more competitive and less burdensome than ours. That’s why we must cut our taxes, reduce economic burdens, and restore America’s competitive edge. We’re going to do that, too. And it’s already happening. Look what’s happening with our markets. People get it. (Applause.)
[It has been happening before Trump because of economic programs put into place by Obama, including trade deals, job training, summits designed to incentivize international businesses to locate here. As a result, corporations are flush with cash – $2 trillion worth – but have not raised wages. Trump’s tax plan has no incentives to raise wages and because consumer spending will be weak, and there are no rules to prevent companies from off-shoring jobs and profits, companies have no reason to invest here.]
If we do this, then America will win again like never, ever before. (Applause.) A vote to cut taxes is a vote to put America first again. We want to do that. We want to put America first again. (Applause.) It’s time to take care of our workers, to protect our communities, and to rebuild our great country. (Applause.)
You know, we’ve spent almost $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 16 years — $7 trillion. Now, I’m taking care of it. We’re doing numbers like ISIS has never seen before. We’re wiping them out — terrorists, they’re bad. (Applause.)
And all of that, but we’ve spent almost $7 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country four times over. And we’re going to start spending here. We’re going to start spending here. (Applause.)
And with that being said, we’re going to protect our country, whether it’s North Korea or any — but we’re going to protect our country like never before. We’re going to build up our military and make our product here and make our planes, and our boats, and our everything here.But we’re going to build up our military. (Applause.)
But we’ve got to start focusing on our country. That’s why I’m saying America first. Make America great again — you’ve never heard that expression. (Applause.) All those hats. All those — they’ve never heard that expression before.
Oh, that was a good expression and it’s a true expression and it’s already happening and long ahead of schedule. And in fact, today, some numbers came out that people haven’t seen in many, many years.
This beautiful city of St. Charles is the perfect place to deliver the message that I want to deliver. It’s the place where America’s past and future come to life on its historic brick-lined Main Street. Nice street, do you agree? (Applause.)
It was along these very streets that, in 1804, the great American explorers, Lewis and Clark, gathered their final supplies before setting out on their very historic expedition of discovery. I have to say, I didn’t really know that until two days ago. (Laughter.)
See? See, now the world is watching. Look at all the fake news back there. They’re all —
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: They’re all watching.
Today, more than two centuries later, a new generation of American pioneers begins its own adventure, gathering inside the startups and the storefronts of main streets across the country, blazing new trails into totally uncharted territory of business and technology, and once again leading our nation into a future of limitless potential.
That’s what we have in this country. We have the greatest people. It’s the greatest country. I love this country so much. (Applause.)
Our country was not treated properly for a long time. We’re treating it properly. We’re treating it with love and with this. You got to treat it with this.
And today, just as it’s always been, Main Street is the heart of our economy, the soul of our community, and the birthplace of American dreams.
But over the years, crippling taxes, massive regulation, and totally disastrous trade deals — oh, the trade deals. Oh, I get a headache thinking about who made these deals. (Laughter.) One after another. WTO, NAFTA, the wonderful deal with South Korea — remember, they said it’s going to produce 200,000 jobs? And it did, for South Korea. (Laughter.) Didn’t produce — we lost 200,000 jobs. It turned some of our businesses’ main streets into empty ghost towns. You see what’s happened.
Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore American prosperity and reclaim America’s great destiny. We’ve already made tremendous progress — far greater than I would have thought. I will tell you this in a non-braggadocious way — (laughter) — there has never been a 10-month President that has accomplished what we have accomplished. That I can tell you. That I can tell you. (Applause.)
Today, again, the stock market has reached another record, all-time high. (Applause.) The unemployment rate nationwide is the lowest it’s been in 17 years — (applause) — and 13 states this year have seen unemployment drop to the lowest levels in the history of their state. And I hate to tell you, but Missouri happens to be one of them. (Applause.)
[Increases in stock market have nothing to do with jobs or wages or prosperity. In the first place, they are paper profits only realized when the stock is sold. In the second place, only 20% of Americans have a stake in the stock market. In the third place, sales of shares do not go to the company to invest or add jobs except when it is the Initial Public Offering. Fourth: the stock market only reflects short term, not long term, and today, with computer trading, will buy/sell based on small changes in market price. Fifth: Wall Street does not care about the well being of ordinary Americans – witness how the stock market rose on news that hundreds of thousands of jobs were being shed in the lead up to the 2008 financial collapse.]
We’ve created nearly 2 million jobs — 2 million jobs, think of that. We used to lose millions. Now we’ve created 2 million jobs since I won the election. And, I want to say, since you won the election. I didn’t win the election; you won the election. (Applause.)
And we will create countless more if we can sustain the 3 percent growth rate we have achieved for the past two quarters. But we’re going to do much better than that. Remember I used to say, we can hit 4 and we can hit 3? And they were all saying, forget it, forget it. It was 1.2. It was doing terribly. We were flat. We were even. In all fairness, the stock market was going this way.
[No credible economists expect the US, a mature economy, to grow by 3% a year.]
And now, we’re hitting numbers that nobody thought possible, certainly not in this time. And the numbers going up are going to be much better than anybody anticipates. In fact, they’re going to say that Trump is the opposite of an exaggerator — the exact opposite. (Laughter and applause.) They’re going to start saying, Governor, that he ought to be a little bit more optimistic because his predictions were low, can you believe it?
You know, a year and a half ago, they were saying, oh, he can’t do that. Now they’re saying, hm, that was quick. (Laughter.)
But by the way, the Commerce Department announced this morning that our GDP — that’s the big one — in the third quarter, grew even faster than they reported previously. They made a mistake, they were too low. They had it at 3 percent. By the way, 3 percent — did you ever think you’d hear that in less than a year?
THE PRESIDENT: And now it comes in at 3.3 percent, which is the largest increase in many years. (Applause.)
And if we didn’t have the hurricanes, we would have been at 4 percent. The hurricanes were devastating. And I said, they’re worth a point. They said they were worth like .006, but I said they were worth a point. We would have been at 4 percent, maybe even over 4 percent, but we had hurricanes.
We took care of them. In Texas and Florida, they did a great, great job — amazing job, tremendous leadership. And we’re very proud.
[Where is the money coming from for disaster relief, which is all too common with climate change and increasing frequency of climate catastrophe?]
Puerto Rico has been a very tough situation because of the fact that it was in very, very bad shape before the storms ever hit. But they’re doing well there and it’s healing and it’s getting better. And we’re getting them power, and all of the things that they have to have.
But I want to tell you there are a lot of brave people in every state. We have great, great people, and it’s our number one resource, believe me. Really great. (Applause.)
But in order to achieve this bright and glowing future, the Senate must pass those tax cuts. Bring Main Street roaring back — and that’s what’s going to happen. This was all done without the tax cuts, and I’m not sure that people even believe the tax cuts. I want to see what happens….
So right now, America’s tax code is a total dysfunctional mess. The current system has cost our nation millions of American jobs, trillions and trillions of dollars, and billions of hours wasted on paperwork and compliance. It is riddled with loopholes that let some special interests — including myself, in all fairness. This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.
Believe me, this is not good for me. (Laughter.) Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends — not so happy with me, but that’s okay. You know, I keep hearing Schumer, “This is for the wealthy.” Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it. (Laughter.) I have to explain why.
[Like in poker, Trump has a “tell” when he is bluffing (lying): Whenever he says “Believe me,” especially when he repeats “Believe me” he is lying.]
Now it is great for companies, because companies are going to bring back jobs. And we’re lowering the rates very substantially. But right now, we’re bringing the rates down from 35 percent — which is totally non-competitive. The highest industrialized nation in the world, by far, and we’re bringing it all the way down to 20 percent. (Applause.)
[35% is the nominal tax rate before deductions and loopholes. The average rate paid by US companies is 18%, which is below average for industrialized nations, and profitable companies like Apple and General Electric pay little or no taxes.]
But that’s good for everybody in the room, whether you have company or whether you want a job, because we’re going to bring back jobs. (Applause.)
And what we’ve had is a massive giveaway to foreign countries, which encourage businesses to relocate offshore. And you’ve seen what’s happened.
Before this — this is, really, I’m most proud, because, as bad as our tax code is, we have Toyota, we have big car companies coming back in, building plants in Michigan and other places. We have a lot of businesses coming back in, and they see what’s happening. They see what’s going on.
[International companies have building factories in the US, predating and having nothing to do with Trump. Even the announcements he made after winning election were plans to expand made during Obama’s administration.]
That’s why they’re doing — our current code is a giant — and really it is — it’s a self-inflicted economic wound. It’s been that way for so many years and nobody wanted to do anything about it.
But all that will change and it will change immediately if Congress sends a tax cut and reform bill. The biggest tax cut in the history of our country — bigger than Reagan. If they send it to my desk, I promise all of the people in this room — my friends, so many friends in this room. It’s a great state. I promise you I will sign it. I promise. I will not veto that bill. There will be no veto. (Applause.)
Under the plan moving forward in the Senate, a typical family of four earning $75,000, as an example, will see their taxes go down by as much as $2,000. That’s a lot. (Applause.)
[Individual tax cuts are temporary; what is more, losing the deductions for state and local taxes, interest on school loans and the like, will wipe out any reduction in taxes because of the doubling in the personal exemption. And with the deal to eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate for health insurance – to appear to save $338 billion in government spending so that the tax plan can pass with only 51 Senate votes – everyone’s premiums will increase 10% a year.]
Now, we’re doing that not just to help people. We’re doing that because it helps our country. You’re going to take that $2,000 and maybe you’ll save some, and you’re going to spend some. And we’re going to make product back in our country again. It’s going to be made here — going to be made elsewhere. But it’s going to be made here. We’re opening up plants. We’re opening up factories, and we’re going to be great to small business. Wait until you see the final product. Wait until you see what finally comes out in what I call the mixer.
The beating heart of our plan is a tax cut for working families. That’s what it is. We’re going to make sure — (applause) — that you keep more of your hard-earned money. We’re going to make sure, also, that you have a job that you want. You’re going to have choice. In education we now have choice. Good word. Here you’re going to have a choice. You’re not just going to have one — you’re going to have a choice of many jobs. People are moving back into our country.
Under our plan, the first $12,000 of income earned by a single individual will be totally income-tax-free — zero. (Applause.) And a married couple won’t pay one dime of income tax on their first $24,000 of income — zero. (Applause.)
Our plan will significantly increase the child tax credit and make it available to more middle-class families because the single most important investment our nation can make is in our children. Do we agree? You agree? You better agree. (Applause.)
Families will also benefit from a new credit for other dependents like a child in college, or an elderly loved one. We have our mothers, our fathers. You have your grandparents. You have people that are elderly that have done a fantastic job. They’ve grown old. You want to help them. Now we are going to help you help them. (Applause.)
We’re also going to eliminate tax breaks and complex loopholes taken advantage of by the wealthy. Who are they? I don’t know. (Laughter.) I think my accountants are going crazy right now. It’s all right. Hey, look, I’m President. (Laughter.) I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care. (Laughter and applause.)
Some of my wealthy friends care. Me? I don’t care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree? (Applause.) As Hillary said, what difference does it make? It made a difference. It made a big difference. It made a big, big difference. (Applause.)
[If the tax plan isn’t going to give Trump and his family millions of dollars – by eliminating the AMT and Estate Tax – where are his tax returns to prove that?]
We want a tax code that is simple and fair, and that’s for all Americans. The plan that senators will be voting on this week — hopefully as soon as possible — closes the loopholes that corporations use to shift their profits to tax havens, and it eliminates deductions for CEO salaries over $1 million. You see what some of these people are making — a little ridiculous. (Applause.)
I’m driving up their stock. They’re making a fortune. Then they go to their board, and they tell everybody what a great job they’re doing. But what am I going to do? (Laughter.) And many of them, honestly, I don’t like. (Laughter.) Oh, some of these bankers I don’t like them, and they’re making a fortune, and it’s one of those things.
Steve knows a couple of them that I’m talking about, doesn’t he? (Laughter.) They say what a great job they do. Right now anybody could do their job because we’re making it easy for them because we’re giving them a great and strong economy. And because we’ve cut regulations more than any President in the history of this country by far, and that’s for full terms. That’s not for 10 months. (Applause.)
And it allows builders to build, and it allows farmers to farm. You know what I’ve done for farmers. (Applause.) Where if you had a little puddle in the middle of your field, you go to jail if you touch it, right? You know what I’m talking about. Not anymore. Not anymore. Not anymore. (Applause.)
And it allows bankers to lend. It allows bankers to lend again. So many people came up to me, and they said, we had a 20-year relationship with a bank. We never had a default. We never had a bad loan. Now we go back to the bank, and they say, we can’t do business with you anymore.
Because they don’t qualify, even though they’re better than the people that do qualify. It’s incredible. But we’re back to the strong days of our banks. And not the days of trouble — pre-that — we’re back to the — where bankers can make loans and community bankers can make great loans to good people.
You saw what happened recently where the certain agency or bureau that was causing so much trouble to lenders, where they could not lend. They just couldn’t lend. It was devastating. They were going out of business. Well, we’re taking care of that. We’ve already taken care of a big part of it, and yesterday you saw we won the lawsuit. So that’s going to be taken care of automatically. (Applause.) Got to get back to business.
Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and machine shops of America — the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe fitters — the people that like me best. (Laughter.) Actually, the rich people actually don’t like me, which is sort of interesting.
And that’s fine. You know what? I like that trade. (Laughter.) But really, the people that like me best are those people — the workers. They’re the people I understand the best. Those are the people I grew up with. Those are the people I worked on construction sites with. (Applause.)
All of the people who give their best each and every day to take care of their family and the country that they love — these are incredible people. They came out to vote for me. They came out to vote for us. People that worked hard, two jobs, three jobs, that hadn’t voted in many years because they never had anybody they wanted to vote for.
And they came out — I’ll never forget, in Tennessee, a great congressman told me — they had early voting — said, I’ll tell you what, we just went through four days of early voting. At that time, it was Mr. Trump. Now they say, Mr. President. But it was Mr. Trump.
He said, and if the other parts of the country are like what’s happening in Tennessee — people are coming from all over Tennessee. They haven’t voted in years, and now they’ve got Trump shirts and they’ve got Trump hats, and they’ve got Trump-Pence, and they’ve got everything Trump and Trump-Pence.
[Trump can’t get through a single speech without crowing over the 2016 Election.]
And he said, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been a politician for a lot of years. And if it’s anything like Tennessee, you’re going to have one hell of a victory. It turned out to be a lot like Tennessee, so — (applause). And it turned out to be a lot like Missouri. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Because we had a big one here.
And I promised Josh that, when he gets it going — and he’s got it in very good shape, from what I hear, he’s a popular — everybody said, Josh, got to be Josh. Everyone who saw me — I said, who’s going to run against her? Josh, Josh. I said, Josh, when you’re ready, you have my word, I’m going to come here and campaign with you. We got to get you in. Okay? (Applause.) Got to get you in.
It’s not enough for the middle class to keep getting by; we want them to start getting way ahead. (Applause.) We’re going to have them start getting way ahead.
Under our plan, middle-class families will not only see their tax bill go down, they will see their incomes go up by an average of around $4,000. (Applause.) And that’s because we’re going to cut taxes on American businesses so they will compete for workers, they’ll raise salaries. The business is going to be happy and the workers are going to be happy and the country is going to be a happy place.
Although, we’re going to have very strong borders. Please remember that, okay? Please remember. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build the wall.
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to have the wall. Don’t worry about it, we’re going to have the wall. (Applause.) We don’t forget that wall. A lot of people say, now that he got elected, is he going to build the wall? The answer is, absolutely — more so, I think more so. (Applause.)
It’s not easy dealing with the Democrats. They want to have people pour into our country — illegals. They don’t care where the hell they come from. They want to have them pour into our country, they want to raise your taxes, they don’t want to take care of your military, and all they’re good at, frankly, is obstructing. They want to obstruct.
But you know what? They may obstruct, but we have gotten through all of the obstruction so far. We’ll keep it going, believe me. (Applause.)
Today, America has one of the least competitive tax rates on planet Earth — 60 percent. Think of that: 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world. So our taxes are 60 percent higher.
On my recent trip to Asia, every single one of the countries I visited, even those with communist governments, have slashed its corporate tax rates and slashed them dramatically. And it’s very tough competition anyway. But when their taxes are a lot lower, it really makes it very tough.
And that trip was a tremendous success. You know, we brought back $250 billion in contracts. That’s going to be over a trillion dollars very soon. (Applause.) That’s a good week and a half’s work. Boeing came back with contracts. So many of our companies came back, and I’m very proud of them. And we’re doing great.
But at the same time, we’re going to fix trade because trade is unfair. We’re getting killed on trade. So we’re going to fix our trade. Unless anybody would like to continue with this horrible situation that we have.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Our plan gets America from the back of the pack and it’ll bring us right to number one, where we were for years but where we haven’t been for decades. We’re going to be right back at number one. (Applause.)
And we’re going to work on trade, but we’re also going to work on military. When we defend nations that are very wealthy, and we do it for almost nothing, I say, why are we defending them? We love them. I won’t mention names, but there are a lot of them. We love them. They’re wealthy.
One of them has a cash flow that they say is unsustainable, it’s so large. Think of that. How would you like to have an unsustainable cash flow? They don’t know what to do with their money. And we defend them. It’s going to change, folks. We’re going to defend them, but they’re going to treat us fairly. And they’re going to pay for their defense. Does that make sense? (Applause.)
And a lot of this is from many, many years ago, when we defended a defeated country and then they became strong and they became rich and we just kept the same defense. What happened? Why didn’t anybody go in and negotiate?
And when I was in Asia, I spoke to a couple of the countries about it, and they looked like this. Do you know what this is? (Laughter.) That means they know they’re getting away with murder and they got to start helping us out, okay? So if you don’t mind, I’ll start bringing that up with some of our good friends. (Applause.)
We’re going to lower our tax rate to the very competitive number of 20 percent, as I said. And we’re going to create jobs and factories will be pouring into this country, and they already are starting. A lot of people think it’s going to happen. I don’t want to say anything. I’m not going to talk about it. I thought we had healthcare, and we will have healthcare. It’s going to happen. As soon as we get the taxes, we work on the healthcare, we’re going to happen. Because we thought we had the votes and something happened a little strange — (laughter) — that’s okay.
When you lose by one vote, then it’s called — you go back. You know, some people said, oh, you failed with healthcare. I said, what do you mean we failed? We didn’t fail. And by the way, what happened — what happened is Obama took a long time — years — to get Obamacare, right? Again, ten months? We’ve had two runs at it. We’re coming closer, closer. I think now we have a plan that’s going to be great. But we’re not talking about it until after taxes. And then we take care of healthcare.
Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.)
So we’re going to go into welfare reform, unless Billy doesn’t want it. Billy, am I okay in saying that I speak for you? He said, yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Billy. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: You got a lot of friends out there, Bill.
Well, we’ll also cut taxes for the millions of small businesses that file as individuals, and that’s going to come out of the hopper. (Applause.) It’s getting there and it’s going to be better and better. We’re reducing the tax burden on businesses of all sizes and of every, single kind.
As a candidate,I pledged to fight for American jobs. I think it’s possibly the number one reason I got elected. And I think we’ve done a lot better, at this point, than anybody ever even thought possible. Think of that, two million jobs since the election — two million more jobs in this country since the election. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected that. Excuse me, I didn’t even expect that. (Laughter.)
But you cut those regulations and you give people spirit and incentive. And when you have the highest ratings, in terms of confidence, that the country has had in many, many years — maybe ever — things happen.
The tax cut will mean more companies moving to America, staying in America, and hiring American workers right here. So that’s so important, right? (Applause.)
Small business groups across our nation, retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, grocers, contractors support this plan. We have tremendous support for this plan. Tremendous. Because these massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel — (laughter) — Little Rocket Man — (laughter) — rocket fuel for the American economy. (Applause.) He is a sick puppy….
[Out of no where, a gratuitous dig at North Korea.]
We want to make it easier for loving families to pass on their life’s work to their children. Be nice. Be very nice, right? (Applause.)
That’s a tough one. The Democrats fight that one I think harder than any other thing that we’re doing. They fight the death tax. They don’t want it. They don’t like it. They don’t want it. It’s one of those things. But that is one of the hardest things. I have to be — I see people right here. They’re obviously very rich, and they love their children, right, in this group? (Laughter.) They love their children. They’re very rich. They want to pass on what they have without having to have the kids sell the property, mortgage up half of it. But the biggest problem we have on that one, these Democrats are being brutal. And I call them obstructionists, but they want to stop the estate tax. They want to stop the death tax from being rescinded. But we’re going to try our best on that one.
[Of course Trump and his donors, the Kochs, Mercers, Adelson, want to rescind the estate tax which impacts a few thousand individuals because the cap is so high: Trump’s kids stand to pocket an extra $1 billion when Donald kicks the bucket.]
Our economy will receive another enormous boost as trillions of dollars in wealth that’s parked overseas will be able to come back to our country.
Now, this one that’s interesting because for years Republicans and Democrats agreed. You have Apple, and you have these great companies having billions and billions of dollars overseas. Now who doesn’t want the money to come back?
But to show you the lack of leadership that this country had in the past, the Republicans want it, and the Democrats want it. And nothing ever happened. You could have passed that one easy. In fact, we’re just throwing it into this bill. I could have had a separate bill on that one — I think. Don’t you agree, fellas? I could have had a separate bill on that one and gotten it passed in record time. But I figured I’d put it here because it is actually popular.
But it used to be $2.5 trillion. You know what that is? Trillion. Money you can’t bring back in. It’s prohibitive — both in complexity and in the amount of tax you have to pay. So nobody brings back in — $2.5 trillion. But $2.5 [trillion] I’ve been saying for six years. I think now it’s $4 trillion to $5 trillion. All that money is coming back into the United States, and it’s going to be invested in our country, instead of sitting and helping others. We want our own help. (Applause.)
That’s sort of an easy one. Last year, American multinational companies left more than 70 percent of their foreign profits overseas because the current tax system penalizes them for bringing that money back home. They actually get penalized. Our plan switches to a territorial tax system that encourages companies to return their profits to America — right here to the United States — where that money belongs going back to work for you. Territorial. (Applause.)
[Democrats support the concept in theory, but not the way it will be abused. The Republican plan doesn’t prevent companies from continuing to offshore profits to avoid tax. Democrats including Obama were always in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate to the range of 20%, but removing the loopholes so they actually do pay tax.]
If we want America to thrive in the 21st century, then we must stop running from the competition. And instead, we must start totally winning and winning and winning again. Remember when I used to say: We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win — that the people of Missouri are going to go to your governor, and they’re going to say, Governor, please, go see the President. We can’t stand winning so much. Remember I used to say that? (Laughter.) Right? I used to say it, and that’s what’s happening. That’s what’s happening. (Applause.)
And then the governor is going to come to that beautiful historic Oval Office. He’s going to say to me, Mr. President, the people of Missouri cannot stand all this winning. (Laughter.) They don’t want to win so much. They love the old way where they had lousy job numbers, lousy economic numbers, lousy — yeah, they loved it. Please, Mr. President, please, not — and I’ll say, Governor, I don’t care what they say in Missouri, we’re going to keep winning and winning and winning. Remember? (Laughter.) That’s right. (Applause.)
I used to say that. I had fun with that. But we are winning. We’re winning again. We’re winning a lot bigger than anyone ever thought possible for such a short period of time.
For too long, our tax code has incentivized companies to leave our country in search of lower tax rates. It happens. Many, many companies — they’re going to Ireland. They’re going all over. They’re going all over Asia. But they’re stopping because they now want to take advantage of what’s happening and what we’re about to pass, hopefully.
My administration rejects the offshoring model. In other words, let’s build a factory in another country. Isn’t that wonderful? That really helps us a lot. Fire everybody, and let’s build a product, and let’s send it in, without tax, back into the United States.
That model doesn’t work for me. It never worked, and it shouldn’t have worked for any of our other past Presidents, believe me. (Applause.)
Our new model is the American model. Call it the Trump model, where we build it here. As much as possible, we build it here. Simply put, our tax plan is anti-offshoring and 100 percent worker, 100 percent worker, 100 percent pro-America. (Applause.)
Under the American model, we’re reducing burdens on our businesses as long as they do business in our country. Okay? They do business here.
Now, we love Mexico. It’s a wonderful place. But I don’t like when our car companies move to Mexico, fire everybody, build the same car in Mexico, send it through our borders with no taxes, no nothing, and we buy the car. Same price. We buy the car.
In the meantime, what do we get out of it? We get no tax and we get unemployment all over. That’s stopping. So now the plants are starting to move back. And now there’s a price to pay when they do that little number on us. (Applause.) That’s how we will all succeed and we grow together as one team, one people, as one American family. (Applause.)
This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker.
To summarize: Our plan cuts taxes for the working and middle-income families; it nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero; it lowers tax rate; it expands the child tax credit; it provides relief from the estate tax, also known as the death tax; it cuts small business taxes; it reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent; and it provides a one-time low tax rate to return corporate money parked overseas — trillions and trillions of dollars.
This is the right plan. This is the right time. We have a moment in time. The Republicans have the Senate. The Republicans have the House. The Republicans have the White House. It’s very unusual. It’s very unusual. (Applause.)
This is our chance to free our economy from our workers — from the terrible tax burdens. We have workers that are so burdened with taxes. We’re freeing our workers from those terrible burdens.
Republicans in Congress campaigned on cutting taxes. We also campaigned on repeal and replace. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. Take your time, it’s going to happen — going to happen. (Applause.)
Many Democrats have promised tax cuts that don’t mean anything because they really want major tax increases. Senator Claire McCaskill — have you ever heard of her?
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: — is doing you a tremendous disservice. She wants your taxes to go up. She’s weak on crime, she’s weak on borders, she’s weak on illegal immigrations, and she’s weak on the military. Other than that, I think she’s doing a fantastic job. (Laughter.)
[Trump uses this kneejerk attack on any Democrat or anyone he doesn’t like without regard for truth.]
But now comes the moment of truth. In the coming days, the American people will learn which politicians are part of the swamp and which politicians want to drain the swamp. (Applause.)
If you make your voices heard and call up your congressmen — and they’ve been terrific — and call up your senators — and they have been totally terrific. Most of them have been incredible. They really are. They’re friends of mine. They’ve been incredible.
But, it doesn’t take much. That’s why we need more. We need to have a larger number. But most of them have been incredible. But call your senators. Call you congressmen, because we have no choice. We have to act. We have to act as a country. This isn’t good for the Republican Party; this is good for the country and that’s ultimately what’s it all about. (Applause.)
So, this week, hopefully, the Senate can join the House and take that strong stand for middle-class families and for business, and for jobs, and for competition, and for bringing money back. Together, we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present. (Applause.)
And remember, I was the one — when I was here last time, I said, we’re going to have Christmas again. I was the one that said, you go to the department stores and you see “Happy New Years,” and you see red, and you see snow, and you see all these things. You don’t see “Merry Christmas” anymore.
With Trump as your President, we are going to be celebrating Merry Christmas again, and it’s going to be done with a big, beautiful tax cut. (Applause.)
Thank you everybody. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.
The Republican tax plan (scam) – whether the House or the Senate version or whatever will come out of conference – would be devastating to New Yorkers in particular, but the nation as a whole. More than 50 percent of American households will wind up paying more in taxes, with the various cuts in deductions for all the things that enable upward mobility – home mortgage, local property taxes, education loans, medical costs.
Instead of simplifying the tax code and eliminating loopholes, the Republicans have only cut taxes for the wealthiest and corporations without eliminating the loopholes that enable profitable multi-nationals like Apple shelter profits from US tax. There is no incentive for corporations or wealthy individuals to invest in the US, or to create jobs, or even to raise wages. Instead, the Republicans would cause the biggest transfer of wealth from the poorest and middle class to the wealthiest, at the same time, creating a new American aristocracy of wealth and political power. It would intensify the already growing gap between rich and poor – the greatest gap since the Gilded Age and the Robber Barons – hollow out the middle class. Meanwhile, the poor and middle class would be living with heightened insecurity because of loss of access to affordable health care.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its report which clearly shows that the federal government would be raising taxes on those making less and generously benefiting those making more. For instance, Americans making less than $30,000 in 2019 will pay $2,580,000,000 more in taxes – while those making over $200,000 will pay $118,550,000,000 less in taxes in 2019.
“The Republican tax plan [which eliminates the deductions for state and local taxes] would be devastating for Long Island,” Congressman Tom Suozzi, Democrat of Long Island told a Town Hall attended by 150 people in Great Neck. “The current tax bill passed by the House and proposed by the Senate would be bad for the country but especially bad for New York State and Long Island. Devastating…. It will cause people to move out – make people move away – not just the billionaires and millionaires making oodles of money, but people who are just making it.”
Housing values will likely fall because the tax deduction of the mortgages – $1.5 million is average home cost for New York City – will be eliminated. Houses will be even less affordable.
The Republican tax plan is “structured in a way to take money out of the middle class to pay for tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations. They had to find revenue to pay for tax cuts – they couldn’t go over $1.5 trillion deficit over 10 years in order to pass the bill with only 51 votes in the Senate.” They came up with the biggest reduction in deductions – eliminating the deductions for SALT (state and local taxes), which if they put back in, can’t give the tax cuts to corporations.” It is even questionable if it is constitutional, since it would essentially double-tax that income – first at the state and local level and then again at the federal level.
“It’s a conscious decision that affects states like New York, New Jersey, California, and a few others” – states with high state and local taxes which also are “donor states” sending far more to the federal government than comes back in federal aid., which also happen to be “blue” states. It’s also part of the strategy to “shrink the federal government” and attack the social safety net put into place since FDR’s New Deal that came out of the Great Depression and continued by LBJ’s Great Society: Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid because budget deficits will trigger mandatory reductions in spending – $25 billion worth in 2018 alone.
“This is the issue we have to shut down the government on,” said a town hall participant, Howard Weitzman who was a village mayor and member of the Nassau County Board of Assessors. “They cannot destroy the economic engine of this country – all this tax money going to government. They are willing to destroy this area to give tax cuts to people who don’t need them. [Budget Director Mike Mulvaney charged, “Why do people in Alabama have to support New York” but the opposite is true: he knows very well that New York sends $48 billion more to the federal government, which go to states like Alabama. “Shut down the government.”
Democrats would be right to shut down the government. And the Donor States like New York, California, New Jersey (not coincidentally which are Democratic), should withhold the excess revenue to the federal government, much like a tenant-landlord dispute, putting the money into escrow for use to accomplish the infrastructure projects and transition to clean-energy economy that would have been federally funded. (See: Republican Tax Plan is Attack on Blue States; Fight Back by Holding Money ‘in Escrow’)
Trump and the Republicans intend to bankrupt the nation, to justify $25 billion in cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid next year, and billions more thereafter. Their tax policy would saddle the nation with $1.5 trillion more in debt while doing nothing to pay down the $20 trillion in debt we already incur – that interest payment alone, unless Trump defaults as he has on his own debt, will amount to 5% of the annual budget, more than $200 billion worth each year.
The Republican tax plan would raise taxes on the 59 million households that make $50,000 or less; and by 2027 the 86 million households who make less than $75,000. Trump appealed to the suffering masses whose salaries haven’t kept up in the 40 years since the Reagan “revolution” – but as Suozzi said, “the world is dramatically changed because of globalization and technology. We need to figure out how to get more companies to locate in US and create jobs where people make a decent living –enough to buy a house, educate their children, have health insurance and retire without being scared.” But the Republican plan will “starve the beast” and break the “engine” of economic growth by cutting off revenue that would pay for education, infrastructure and health care, while increasing the national debt which will raise interest rates. It is a cycle of destruction.
NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo Reacts
Here’s New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to Senate Budget Committee’s 12-11 vote strictly along partisan lines:
“The President and Republican members of Congress appear determined to pass a tax plan before the end of the year because after an otherwise entirely fruitless legislative year, they are in desperate need of an accomplishment. They must believe in the old adage that “doing something is better than doing nothing.” In this case, that could not be less applicable.
“The GOP tax plan is not just a marketing fraud. It is a schizophrenic hybrid of extreme conservative political ideology and crass electoral politics. The House and Senate have different plans, but both have the same DNA. Both plans pretend to offer tax relief to the middle class, but in reality the policy they advance is just old, discredited trickle-down economics on steroids: disproportionate and large cuts for the rich and the big corporations that are then supposed to result in economic growth that is magically passed on to the workers as wage increases. This is a purely ideological concept that lacks data to support either the idea that the economy will be stimulated or that higher wages will result.
“Both the Senate and House plans are financed in large part by the particularly obnoxious, and possibly illegal, elimination of deductions of state and local taxes (referred to as the SALT deduction). The GOP plan eliminates the deductibility of state and local taxes which is a direct attack on the states with higher state and local taxes. New York and California top the list of the twelve states that will most directly face hardship if SALT deductions are removed. Curiously, all twelve are “blue” states and if this change to accepted tax law passes, these states will be at a competitive disadvantage to other states with lower local taxes.
“The deductibility of state and local taxes has been a sacrosanct principle of tax law for the past one hundred years. It is the underpinning of the economic system for state and local governments. Republican ideology that has always espoused “state’s rights” now tramples on that theory with the elimination of this provision. And anti-tax conservatives are now proposing the first ever double taxation – to tax the taxes an individual pays locally. There is a serious legal question as to whether this double tax is constitutional.
“The elimination of the SALT deduction is the ultimate redistribution of wealth making conservatives who vehemently oppose this philosophical concept all the more hypocritical and disingenuous as they now support it. Eliminating the SALT deduction will redistribute wealth from richer states to poorer states. New York and California will effectively serve as piggy banks to finance tax cuts for other states. Our loss is their gain.
“In New York, six of nine Republican Congress members opposed this plan. The three who stood in support, voted in opposition to the interests of their constituents out of sheer party loyalty. Their justification for supporting this plan is flawed factually and ideologically. If New York raises taxes on the rich and corporations, people and business will leave the state for lower tax states and the remaining tax burden will fall to those left behind. The deduction of state and local taxes is not a federal subsidy for New York.
“New York State is the number one donor state in the nation, sending $48 billion dollars more to Washington than we get back. Eliminating SALT will compound the Federal taking adding approximately $18 billion to the $48 billion now taken. If the Republican Congress returns the $48 billion that New York sends to Washington, then I would be open to discussing eliminating the SALT deduction.
“And to make matters worse, the Senate GOP version proposes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, another legislative promise that the GOP controlled Congress has failed to achieve. It is just healthcare policy masquerading as tax reform. The reality is that lower income Americans won’t have access to health insurance and the individual tax cuts that are set to expire in 2027 will result in half of American households paying higher taxes than they would have if the Senate bill had never passed.
“The Republican Congress is correct that the American people expect action from their government. But in their attempt to save legislative face, they should heed the old adage: “do no harm.” It’s true in medicine and politics. This tax reform plan hurts the country’s poor, working and middle-class families and will have a devastatingly negative economic impact on the twelve states targeted by Washington.
“To be this reckless and dismissive of the economic interests of so many Americans, the Republican’s political assumption must be that they have lost the “blue” states anyway. That is no way to govern or – dare I say – to prepare for mid-term elections.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to President Donald J. Trump condemning the federal tax plan to eliminate or roll back state and local tax deductibility and calling on the President not to use New York as a piggybank for other states.
Here is text of the letter:
Dear President Trump,
I write to you on an issue that impacts every single American: pending federal tax legislation. I am not writing as a Democratic Governor to a Republican President, but rather as one New Yorker who cares about New York and the country to another. I often say to the New York State legislature, “we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first.”
As you well know, the House is expected to release additional details of a “tax cut” plan this week that in reality amounts to a “tax increase” plan for states like New York. The current proposal primarily uses New York and California as the piggybank to make it possible to cut taxes for other states. By eliminating or rolling back state and local tax deductibility, Washington is sending a death blow to New York’s middle class families and our economy.
I understand the politics at play here. California and New York are “blue states.” I also understand that the political map dictates that most Republican members of Congress come from outside the Northeast and West Coast and their primary motivation is to help their states at any cost, even when it comes at the cost of middle class New Yorkers. But when the economies of New York and California suffer, and they will, the nation follows.
It’s clear this is a hostile political act aimed at the economic heart of New York with no basis on the merits. First, it is an illegal and unconstitutional double taxation that forces our middle class families to subsidize a tax cut for the rest of the nation, and it is contrary to every principle the Republican Party has always espoused. Second, it reverses all the bipartisan progress New York State has made in lowering taxes over these past few years. While we have lowered state income taxes, capped property taxes and are forcing local governments to consider shared services, this federal act would erase all those gains and in fact increase taxes. Eliminating state and local deductibility will result in a tax increase of $5,660 on average for one in three taxpayers in New York, or 3.3 million New Yorkers.
This backward tax plan has encountered much deserved resistance, including from Republicans in the Senate. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said “I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere,” adding that state and local tax deductibility is “a system that’s worked very well.” In the face of this pushback, Republican leadership is now trying to salvage their tax plan with a so-called “compromise.” Their scheme is to allow a property tax deduction, but do away with the deduction for state income taxes. For middle class New York families, the average tax increase attributable to losing that deduction would be $1,715. And considering the original federal proposal would cost New York State taxpayers $18.6 billion, this “compromise” does little to help our state since it would still cost New York State taxpayers nearly $15 billion.
Another “compromise” that is being suggested, where only higher income individuals would lose the state and local deductibility, is a 3-card Monte game that could be played on 42nd Street in Manhattan. New Yorkers are not stupid. We know that if deductibility is eliminated on higher incomes it will have a ripple effect, forcing these New Yorkers to move out of the state, taking their tax revenue with them, thus increasing taxes on everyone else. New York will not be in a position to cut state taxes because both the original proposal, as well as the proposed compromise, will force the highest taxpayers from the state and deplete our revenue stream. As you know, five percent of New York State taxpayers account for nearly two thirds of our annual income tax revenue.
I understand why Paul Ryan would seek to hurt New York, but to ask New York Republican members of Congress to vote to raise taxes on their constituents is a betrayal against their state and their constituents. In fact, seven of nine Republicans from New York are against it. The two representatives who support it—Congressmen Collins and Reed—are the Benedict Arnolds of their time because they are putting their own political benefit above the best interests of their constituents.
Speaker Ryan’s only justification is that other states subsidize New York. He is just wrong. They don’t. The opposite is true. New York subsidizes every other state in the nation. We are the highest donor state which means we send $48 billion more in tax dollars to the federal government than we receive back in federal spending.
To be fair, this is not a new idea to pillage New York and California and send their wealth to other states. Congress tried it under President Reagan, but the gross injustice of it caused all but the most partisan and callous officials to drop support. Today’s proposals are no different. Our Congressional representatives should be saying it’s time New Yorkers get their money back. Instead, the current proposal would be taking even more revenue from the number one donor state. How unfair.
There is no middle ground here. Any of the proposed “compromises” will still destroy New York’s economy and harm the middle class. There can be no elimination, no “compromise,” and no cap on state and local tax deductibility.
New York needs your help. You can stop this. And you should not just as an American, but as a New Yorker.
Hurricane Harvey had just devastated Texas, the worst natural disaster up until two weeks later when the entire state of Florida was about to be destroyed by Hurricane Irma, as whole Caribbean island nations as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico had their infrastructure utterly decimated. And Hurricane Jose was on Irma’s tail. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Oregon were being consumed by record wildfires. Congress had authorized $15 billion toward Hurricane Harvey relief and to replenish the nearly depleted funds of FEMA.
Indeed, in North Dakota on September 6, as Hurricane Irma was barreling toward Florida, Trump, the Tax-Cheat-in-Chief, gave an incoherent speech touting his tax plan that began with his incredulity in discovering that North Dakota was undergoing a massive drought.
“I just said to the governor, I didn’t know you had droughts this far north. Guess what? You have them. But we’re working hard on it and it’ll disappear. It will all go away,” Trump said.
Accuweather is projecting the cost of Harvey and Irma alone at $290 billion, or 1.5% of total GDP, which would erase the growth of the economy through year-end, according to Dr. Joel N. Myers, president and chairman.
That’s also more than one-fourth of the $1 trillion that Trump proposed for a 10-year infrastructure plan. Where will the money come from? And if all infrastructure spending has to be directed to Texas and Florida, where does that leave the rest of the country? Not to mention the $1 billion Trump is demanding as down payment on a $70 billion border wall.
Does this get you thinking that Trump and his administration, especially EPA Administrator and shill for the oil industry Scott Pruitt, should rethink their self-serving notion of climate change denial (self-serving because it is used to fuel their argument that they can overturn environmental regulations on the massively profitable fossil fuel industry)? Of course not.
But it should also cause them to rethink their totally corrupt plan for tax reform which is intended to starve the federal government of funds, balloon the budget deficit and national debt, all to shift more of wealth to the already fabulously wealthy. Especially when so many people have lost their businesses and jobs, which will certainly impact tax revenues.
Let’s just consider for a moment what taxes are supposed to be for. And yes, a considerable amount goes to pay for interest on bonds, but bonds are what are used to pay for infrastructure – they represent an investment in the future. And as we are considering how to replace the destroyed and decimated infrastructure, why not build back with sustainability in mind.
Just as in his speech declaring his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement (forged with US leadership and signed by 195 countries), Trump, who took a $900 million tax deduction on his failed Atlantic City casino and probably has never paid 40% tax in his life,lies to rationalize his tax plan, beginning with the lie that the US is the highest taxed nation in the world (not true) and that workers wages will increase if only shareholders and CEOs and the wealthiest 1% could keep an even greater percentage of their money (history shows the opposite). (See New York Times, The False Promises in President Trump’s Tax Plan)
Remember: the wealthiest people used to be taxed at 90% – that was after World War II when the nation had to rebuild its treasury. We were able to afford the GI Bill which probably did more to create a middle class than anything since the New Deal. Now the wealthiest pay something between 35 to 40% – except that they don’t.
Trump (and Ryan) want to give a $170,000 annual windfall to the wealthiest Americans, while crumbs ($700) to the middle class who will lose the only tax deductions they can use. $170,000 times four years worth mean in terms of free money (from tax-paying schnooks) is a lot of dough to invest in politicians and policy with a spectacular return: policies like enabling Big Pharma Sharks to hike up life-saving drugs by 5000%; Oil Barons to make sure incentives for wind and solar energy don’t help these industries develop into competitors; real estate developers who can delight in the tax advantages that let them take a $900 million deduction and build without interfering regulations on lands that are needed to soak up flood waters and health insurance companies to raise premiums to pad profits.
Now this nation is looking at more than $290 billion just to recover from the climate disasters which are becoming more and more frequent, hitting the high density developed urban centers.
If taxes for those who have the means to pay don’t cover the cost, who does? Ryan and the Republicans love to talk about “sacrifice” but the only ones they demand sacrifices from are not the wealthiest or the corporations, but Social Security and Medicare recipients, struggling middle class kids who need to take out loans to pay for college. Their concept is to take money out of the consumer economy, which starts a downward unvirtuous cycle of economic contraction. How do we know?” Because we have seen this movie before: the Bush tax cuts. Meanwhile, median income has risen to its highest levels in 1999 (under Bill Clinton) and 2016 (under Barack Obama) and their tax-and-spending plans.
The Trump/Ryan tax “plan” requires a federal budget that slashes spending for infrastructure, for research and development, for education, for environmental protection (and of course, eradicating any mention of climate change), even slashing spending for diplomacy and foreign aid. It depends on slashing Medicaid and subsidies to keep health insurance affordable (that’s why they are so desperate to repeal Obamacare).
It slashes the tax rate for corporations which already do not pay the nominal 35% rate. Many highly profitable corporations – including General Electric, Pepco Holdings, PG&E Corp., Priceline and Duke Energy – paid nothing into federal coffers from 2008-2015 yet benefit from all the services the government provides including roads, public safety, an educated workforce, mass transit, a military to defend their shipping.
To get to a tax cut without obscenely increasing the national debt, the Republicans say they will get rid of “loopholes” like the mortgage credit and property taxes – that would only complete the decimation of the Middle Class and destroy any semblance of an American Dream. What would make more sense, if they really cared to “reform” the tax code and stop the income distribution from middle class to the already fabulous rich, is to take away the mortgage tax credits on 2nd, 3rd homes and such, and take away the many special deductions that real estate developers like Trump has benefited from, as well as the loopholes that let hedge fund managers shield all but a fraction of their income from taxes that wage-earners pay.
Indeed, the policies that Trump are proposing – specifically, eliminating the tax deduction for state and local property taxes – would hurt blue-states that tend to have higher state and local taxes because they tend to have higher property taxes but provide more services and get less in federal payments than they send to the government, while red-states that have low state and local taxes (and crappy schools and health care) get more from the federal government (paid for by blue states) than they send.
And what about Puerto Rico. which already was in economic disaster – having defaulted on $70 billion in debt – and basically written off by the US government. It’s infrastructure is now totally destroyed. How will it be rebuilt? Here’s what I imagine: Trump is so transactional, I can see a foreign country (China?) with big bucks and an interest in having a foothold in the Western Hemisphere buying Puerto Rico from the US. After all, what is $100 billion or $200 billion to put the island right?
Of course Trump’s tax “reform” plan – sketched out as if on the back of an envelope without any analysis – is really all about tax cuts to the wealthiest and to corporations. As Hillary Clinton said during a debate (which she won): “trickle down economics on steroids” from the guy who took a $900 million deduction for a failed real estate deal, which taxpayers – normal working stiffs – wind up paying for.
Those who have actually analyzed the plan have said that the wealthiest people – who have done astronomically well for decades, while middle class Americans have scarcely had a salary increase in 40 years, so that the gap between rich and poor has reached Grand Canyon proportions – would get a tax windfall of $170,000 a year, while middle class families would get something like $700. Where do the 1 percenters put that extra money which they scarcely need? Well, they invest in buying politicians and influencing policy, of course.
Tax “reform” figures into the Trump obsession with repealing Obamacare and leaving 32 million people without health insurance. It figures into the administration’s dismissal of the Gateway Tunnel project so important to the New York region’s infrastructure and economy.
But now, Trump’s Republican states are being whacked with climate catastrophes, and the money has to come from somewhere.
And let’s also be reminded that the growth in the economy – first, saving the nation from plunging into another Great Depression, and now rebounding to the highest median income, lowest unemployment rate ever and highest rate of health insurance coverage while reducing the poverty rate – happened because of Obama Administration policies and would have been even more effective in terms of raising wages and living standards if the Trump Administration did not steamroll back policies, like overtime pay, parental leave, and federal minimum wage and obstruct infrastructure development and the transition to clean, renewable energy.
People remark that the devastation in their neighborhoods from these massive climate disasters is like a bomb went off. Well, in wartime, taxes are raised – that’s how the rate on the wealthiest hit 90%, to pay off the World War II debt. This is wartime. This nation has to rebuild, and sustainably, responsibly. We need to invest in 21st and 22nd century technologies, to keep the United States a global leader. Otherwise, we will cede our leverage to China which has basically embraced the American model of spreading its political ideology (nominally, “Democracy”) through capitalism (nominally “free market” as opposed to centralized control) and is literally buying up influence over Africa and Asia.
Of course, Trump’s tax plan is Paul Ryan’s tax plan (Trump never actually had a plan), and the Republicans are content to let Trump destroy the nation and end the social safety net including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and possibly embroil us in World War III, until they can get jam through the tax plan they have coveted since Reagan.
Donald Trump is racing to the 100-day mark to do as much as he can to undo progress won over the past century, particularly eradicating every part of Barack Obama’s legacy.
On Wednesday, he signed Executive Orders weakening the Antiquities Act that has been used since Theodore Roosevelt to protect federal land for the American people.
He signed another Executive Order aimed at rolling back national education standards put into place, originally, by George W. Bush under the No Child Left Behind Act, amended with Barack Obama’s Race to the Top (which used federal financial incentives instead of threats of losing federal aid), and reformed under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act).
Also, his Treasury Secretary introduced the outline for tax “reform” which cuts taxes for the wealthiest and corporations and promises to blow a hold trillions of dollars wide in the national debt, just as previous “voodoo” “trickle-down” tax “reform” by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have done.
According to the pool report by Dave Boyer, White House correspondent for The Washington Times:
The president signed an executive order at the Interior Dept. with Vice President Pence, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and several lawmakers and governors. The order directs Interior to review larger national monuments created since 1996.
Trump said the Antiquities Act “does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up” millions of acres of land and water. He especially criticized the Obama administration for an “egregious use of power” and an “abuse of the monuments designation,” and said that it’s time “to end another egregious abuse of federal power.”
“It’s gotten worse and worse and worse. This should never have happened,” he said. “Now we’re going to free it up.”
“We’re returning power back to the people,” Mr. Trump said. “Today we’re putting the states back in charge.”
Pence called the use of the monuments designation “one of the great federal overreaches in recent decades.”
Mr. Zinke said “somewhere along the line, the act has become a tool of political advocacy.” He said the order “does not remove any monuments” or weaken any environmental protections.
[However, it is clear that the powers that Trump is taking upon himself is aimed at reversing Obama’s designation of Bears Ears in Utah.)
Here’s more of what Trump said:
“In the first 100 days, we have taken historic action to eliminate wasteful regulations. They’re being eliminated like nobody has ever seen before. There has never been anything like it. Sometimes I look at some of the things I’m signing I say maybe people won’t like it, but I’m doing the right thing. And no regular politician is going do it. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you folks would do — I will tell you literally some politicians have said, you’re doing the right thing. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do some of these things. But we’re doing them because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s for the good of the nation.
“We’re returning power back to the people. We’ve eliminated job-destroying regulations on farmers, ranchers, and coal miners, on autoworkers, and so many other American workers and businesses.
“Today, I am signing a new executive order to end another egregious abuse of federal power, and to give that power back to the states and to the people, where it belongs.
“The previous administration used a 100-year-old law known as the Antiquities Act to unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control — have you heard about that? — eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land.
“Today, we are putting the states back in charge. It’s a big thing.
“I am pleased to be joined by so many members of Congress and governors who have been waiting for this moment, including Governor Herbert of Utah. Thank you, thank you, Governor. Governor LePage of Maine, who, by the way, has lost a lot of weight. (Laughter.) I knew him when he was heavy, and now I know him when he’s thin, and I like him both ways, okay? (Laughter.) Done a great job. Governor Calvo of Guam. Thank you. Governor Torres from the Northern Mariana Islands. Thank you, thank you, Governor.
“I also want to recognize Senator Orrin Hatch, who — believe me, he’s tough. He would call me and call me and say, you got to do this. Is that right, Orrin?”
SENATOR HATCH: That’s right.
THE PRESIDENT: You didn’t stop. He doesn’t give up. And he’s shocked that I’m doing it, but I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. But I really have to point you out, you didn’t stop.
“And, Mike, the same thing. So many people feel — Mike Lee — so many people feel so strongly about this, and so I appreciate your support and your prodding, and your never-ending prodding, I should say, because we’re now getting something done that many people thought would never ever get done, and I’m very proud to be doing it in honor of you guys, okay? Thank you. (Applause.)
“Altogether, the previous administration bypassed the states to place over 265 million acres — that’s a lot of land, million acres. Think of it — 265 million acres of land and water under federal control through the abuse of the monuments designation. That’s larger than the entire state of Texas.
“In December of last year alone, the federal government asserted this power over 1.35 million acres of land in Utah, known as Bears Ears — I’ve heard a lot about Bears Ears, and I hear it’s beautiful — over the profound objections of the citizens of Utah. The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice.
“I’ve spoken with many state and local leaders — a number of them here today — who care very much about preserving our land, and who are gravely concerned about this massive federal land grab. And it’s gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. This should never have happened.
“That’s why today I am signing this order and directing Secretary Zinke to end these abuses and return control to the people — the people of Utah, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States.
“Every day, we are going to continue pushing ahead with our reform agenda to put the American people back in charge of their government and their lives.
“And again, I want to congratulate the Secretary. I want to congratulate Orrin and Mike and all of the people that worked so hard on bringing it to this point. And tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land, the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world. But now tremendously positive things will happen.”
The signing took place in a room at Interior with a framed portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, a bust of TR and mounted heads of a buffalo and deer on the wall. Among those in attendance were Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Also Govs. Herbert of Utah and LePage of Maine.
Reversing Education Reform
Trump walked into the Roosevelt Room at 2:44 p.m., having been introduced by Vice President Pence. He was greeted by a group of about 25 people, including teachers, lawmakers and governors, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to Boyer’s pool report:
A bit of banter:
Mr. Trump joked with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, incoming head of the National Governors Association, about the length of Sandoval’s prepared remarks, with Trump saying he decided to stay in the room after his own comments because “I know it’s going to be a short speech” from Sandoval.
Mr. Sandoval laughed and told the president, “It just got shorter.”
A few moments later during his remarks, Mr. Sandoval said, “I’m going to skip a page.”
The president, standing to the rear of the group, called out, “Education for North Korea.”
During the event, Mr. Trump also said he was heading afterward for a “very important” briefing for senators on North Korea.
During the president’s formal remarks, he said the education executive order will help to restore local control of education. It calls for a 300-day review of Obama-era regulations and guidance for school districts and directs DeVos to modify or repeal measures deemed an overreach by Washington.
“We know that local communities do it best and know it best,” the president said. He called it “another critical step to restoring local control, which is so important.”
“Previous administrations have wrongly forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictates for what our kids are taught,” he said. “The time has come to empower teachers and parents to make the decisions that help their students achieve success.”
Among those in attendance were Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Virginia Foxx and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Gov. Herbert of Utah and LePage of Maine, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, nominee for ambassador to China.
Mr. Trump told Mr. Branstad, “They’re looking forward to seeing you” in China.
From there, Trump honored the Teacher of the Year, who, surprise surprise, is the first to be from a charter school in the 65 years of the award.
Boyer reports no questions taken at this event.
Pool was ushered into the Oval Office around 4:45 p.m. to find the President seated at the Resolute desk, surrounded by 55 teachers from around the nation, plus First Lady Melania Trump (who is celebrating her birthday), Vice President Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The President congratulated Sydney Chaffee, winner of the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, from Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, Mass. The ninth-grade teacher is the first charter school teacher to win the award in its 65-year history, and also the first from Massachusetts.
“That is really something special,” Mr. Trump said.
The president also thanked the group for having sung “Happy Birthday” to the First Lady before your poolers arrived.
The president greeted your poolers with, “Busy day, hasn’t it been?”
He praised the teachers as “the greatest there are. You’re all great, great teachers.”
Near the conclusion of the president’s comments, as he was saying he hopes the teachers’ trip to the White House was special, one unidentified teacher began to cry, apparently tears of happiness.
“Sorry, I’m always crying,” she told the president.
The President told her, “I’ve had some of the biggest executives in the world, who have been here many times, and I say have you been to the Oval Office? No. They walk into the Oval Office and they start crying. I say ‘I promise I won’t say to your various stockholders [that they cried].”
The president did not answer a question shouted near the end about North Korea.
Meanwhile, the outline of his tax plan was unveiled which would:
Slash the corporate tax rate by 60%, from 35% to 15%. This will lose $2.4 trillion over 10 years—enough to fund Medicaid and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) serving nearly 75 million Americans for five years.
Cut the tax rate paid by Wall Street money managers and real estate tycoons like Trump down to just 15%―far less than many middle-class families pay.
Continue tax breaks that encourage corporations to send jobs and profits offshore. Corporations currently have $2.6 trillion in profits stashed offshore, on which they owe $750 billion in taxes.
The theory – by Republicans since Ronald Reagan – is that the deficit in tax revenues would be made up by economic growth, except that has never been the case.
In reaction, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) stated:
“At a time when we have a rigged economy designed to benefit the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations, President Trump’s new tax plan would only make that system worse. He would slash taxes for himself and his billionaire friends and significantly increase the deficit, while doing little to help rebuild the collapsing middle class. Rather than making large profitable corporations – many of which pay nothing in federal income tax – finally contribute their fair share, Trump wants to give them a huge tax break.
“At a time when Trump wants to make major cuts in education, health care, senior programs, nutrition and affordable housing, it is especially outrageous that he would propose the elimination of the Estate Tax and provide a $353 billion dollar tax giveaway to the wealthiest 0.2 percent – including a tax break of up to $4 billion to the Trump family.”