Republicans’ haste leading to flawed tax legislation

first_imgLikewise, the House version would stop allowing taxpayers to take a deduction for medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of their income.That would hurt middle- and working-class families.On matters small and large, Republican leaders have deliberately left no time for definitive congressional analysis of the economic and social fallout.Then they’ve summarily dismissed research by respected outside groups like the Tax Policy Center, which has found that the legislation decisively tilts to the well-to-do — by 2027, the wealthiest 1 percent would get 60 percent of the benefits, the group says — and that by 2027, tens of millions of middle-class families would pay higher taxes.The Senate bill has a provision for triggering automatic additional corporate tax cuts in the unlikely event that revenues exceed expectations.On Tuesday, Republicans inserted a so-called “backstop” provision that would limit tax cuts years from now if there’s a revenue shortfall.Details weren’t provided and it’s probably more of a vote-getting device than a substantive check on ballooning deficits. Sen. Ron Wyden, the panel’s senior Democrat who was amenable to a bipartisan tax-reform deal. Instead, the seven-term Utah lawmaker, under pressure to retire next year, went small, expensive and partisan.Stephen Shay, a Harvard University law school lecturer, tax lawyer and former Treasury official, has predicted that the rushed legislation “will be rife with undiscovered loopholes that increase the windfalls and scope of the deficit.”The Finance Committee did hold an Oct. 3 hearing, he noted, but it lacked substance and was “irrelevant except to permit the committee majority to say a hearing was held.”Overall, Shay writes, “There is a pervasive failing in the bill to introduce guardrails around substantial rate reductions that would effectively police the many new boundaries between rate differences that the bill creates.”Some provisions are included to score cheap political points. Conservatives targeted higher education, elite liberal institutions in their book, with taxes on the endowments of better-off colleges and on the tuition waivers graduate students receive for working as researchers or teaching assistants.There were no hearings that weighed the effect of these measures.University officials claim they would reduce research and cut financial assistance for middle-income students — at a time the federal government is cutting back in the same areas. Over the summer, Republican leaders brushed aside Sen. John McCain’s call for “regular order” to consider what soon became a failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Regular order involves dozens of hearings in which different views can be ventilated, along with deep analysis in a bipartisan spirit.Politically motivated haste has now produced an equally reckless tax effort.On a macro level, it’s not going to produce the promised economic growth.It can be expected to add at least $1.7 trillion to the deficit in 10 years and worsen income inequality.It’s no surprise the House legislated on a partisan basis; that’s long been the way it does business.But the Senate ought to be a different story.Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who leads the Finance Committee, could have tried to work with Oregon Categories: Editorial, OpinionAny major tax bill has unintended consequences and hidden loopholes.But the current Republican tax effort just bristles with such potential miscues.It’s a slipshod product, legislated with minimal transparency and analysis and with a premium on partisan politics.The Senate is slated to vote very soon on a tax bill that’s similar to the one the House passed on Nov. 16.Both call for huge tax cuts, primarily for corporations and upper-income individuals, with little, sometimes nothing, for many middle-class taxpayers.Both parade as tax reform, but do little to reorganize the tax system as the last real tax reform did in a bipartisan measure passed in 1986.The legislation has been rushed so fast through a short-circuited lawmaking process that if it’s successful, many of the politicians who voted for it may find themselves shocked to discover what they’ve done. Sponsors contend that tax cuts benefiting the middle class that are slated to expire in 10 years actually will be extended by a future Congress.If that’s true, what they don’t acknowledge is that these future cuts would add even more to the deficit, bringing pressure for significant spending reductions.The only big available targets are entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, or military spending.That’s why there should be a clear path for deficit hawks like Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, or defense hawks like McCain, to send this bill back to the Finance Committee for real hearings, review, debate and analysis.That’s called regular order.Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist and former executive editor of Bloomberg News.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?last_img read more

The State of Play: For better and for worse, Goodell’s apology reveals a lot about America

first_imgStill, Goodell’s statement failed to even name Colin Kaepernick and did not address the fact that only four out of the NFL’s 32 head coaches are Black and only two of its 32 general managers are Black.  The fact that this statement remains remotely controversial after the events of the past several weeks, years and centuries is confounding, but nevertheless, it does.  If you have a social media account and aren’t a resentful right-winger, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Stuart Carson is a rising senior writing about the intersection of sports, politics and American society. His column, “The State of Play,” runs every other Wednesday. In the minds of an increasing American majority, Black lives matter. That’s good news for the country and a disastrous development for Trump. Think of it this way: When Kaepernick took his kneel-heard-round-the-world in 2016, the ramifications on NFL viewership were so dramatic that the league issued an internal memo addressing the matter. League viewership declined 11% and a Rasmussen study found that nearly one-third of participants were “less likely to watch an NFL game” because of players’ protests. The next season, as players’ protests continued, viewership significantly declined again.  For swaths of Americans — particularly the more resentful, privileged and light of skin among us — the statement elicits discomfort, collective groans and, in many instances, rage.  Goodell’s statement might be empty virtue signaling or a mere performative gesture. Still, it reveals a lot about where the United States is right now.  For starters, Goodell’s admission of the league’s guilt and condemnation of racism means that Americans’ general attitudes toward race might finally be changing for the first time in a long time.  With that experience in mind, Goodell is basically offering a polite fuck-you to any racist who might threaten to boycott the NFL again. He’s not afraid of the financial consequences this time around, and that’s probably because he doesn’t think he’ll face any this time around. He knows that, as the aforementioned data suggests, American society is less Trump-ish than it was four years ago, and his apology reflects that.  In conclusion, I guess the takeaway is this. In recent days and weeks, two four-star generals have expressed withering disapproval of Trump. Hell, Mitt Romney — yes, Mitt Romney — marched with protesters in Washington D.C. and declared “Black lives matter.” Now, the head of the NFL, the embodiment of all things American and bald-eagle-related, has said the same, and I think it’s made several things very clear.  The fact that the commissioner felt safe enough to issue the statement that he did without even consulting team owners means that Trump’s position and the public standing of those who support him is more precarious than ever.  This isn’t just a hunch; data tells the same story. In 2016, a Reuters poll found that 72% of Americans thought Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem was unpatriotic, and 61% said they didn’t support his protest. Now, new polling shows that a majority of Americans believe that racism and discrimination in the United States is a “big problem” and believe that protesters’ anger is justified.  The same could have been said for the NFL. Though the league never verbally excoriated its players, it was still rage that fueled the bulk of the league’s response when the issue reached its last peak in 2017. That’s when players across the league began kneeling during the national anthem and our schmuck-in-chief Donald Trump responded by demanding team owners “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!” “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during a video statement posted to the league’s official Twitter account. “We, the NFL, believe Black lives matter.”  That stance changed Friday.  In light of these developments and Goodell’s apology, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: After years of feckless conduct, the president just might be in trouble.  I want to make something abundantly clear: Black lives matter, unapologetically and unequivocally.  The last time we saw Trump and Goodell’s names in the same headline, the commissioner was metaphorically on his knees, kowtowing to team owners who were more interested in censuring and villainizing their players than supporting them.  Within a year, league owners acted and established a policy that all players and team personnel must “show respect for the flag and the anthem” or else risk being fined. The policy was never enforced, but the stance of America’s most popular professional sport was clear.  I have never seen more white people publicly admitting their guilt and expressing disgust at racism and systematic oppression. I’m not just talking about Jacobin-reading lefties either — they’ve been on this train for a while — I’m talking about very, very white people, the type of white person I know voted for Trump, saying that what’s been done to the United States’ Black community is bullshit and we have to start holding racists accountable for it.  At the end of the day, I can’t really assign any conclusive moral judgement to Goodell’s apology. Was it a step in the right direction? Yes. Whenever an American institution as prominent as the NFL makes a public about-face like this, it is significant. It forces the NFL’s less savory and more racist contingent to reckon with truths that they previously drowned out with Sunday Night Football and Fox News.  These issues will persist unless Goodell follows up his apology with sustained, meaningful engagement and action. I’m talking about big donations, unrelenting public advocacy and continuous support for the league’s politically active players, coaches and personnel. last_img read more