Republican attack on the middle class

Roy Cooper has not given up fighting NC GOP tax cuts

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There are simply too many important things to do to just let this go:

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that he’d keep trying to block pending state tax cuts for corporations and top wage-earners that Republicans approved last summer, a long-shot effort that could become a key 2018 election-year issue.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly voted to lower both corporate and individual income tax rates again in January 2019, halfway through the next fiscal year’s two-year budget that lawmakers will adjust when they return for their regular work session in May. Cooper has blasted other tax cuts approved by Republicans since 2013 because he said they benefited the rich and out-of-state corporations the most. The latest round of cuts was approved over Cooper’s veto of the two-year budget containing the rate reductions.

I realize it's a little early in his tenure to start fashioning a "Legacy" name for Roy. You know, like "Education Governor" or what have you. But after watching the numerous battles he's been dragged into by an immature and spiteful Legislature, I'ma go ahead and put this forward, so y'all can chew on it for a little while: "Resistance Governor." Would that we could give him an easier job after November 2018, but that's going to take a phenomenal effort.

Small to mid-size farmers will likely suffer greatly under US Senate tax bill

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction:

In this season of giving, the U.S Senate is rushing to pass a tax bill next week that would overwhelmingly benefit corporations and the richest households. If passed, this tax plan would not only raise the tax load on millions of low- and middle-income families, it would also mean the elimination of vital programs that help many Americans get by every day. The reason: Math.

By increasing the U.S deficit by more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, Congress would have to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 alone by a total of $136 billion due to spending rules.

Before we look at some of the specific agricultural support programs that are vulnerable under this plan, I'll go ahead and answer your inevitable question, "Why would Republicans intentionally go after their solid base (rural farmers) when they could probably find these cuts elsewhere?" Because US Senate contests are state-wide, not really fitting the profile of "representative." While individual Congressional districts might be particularly hurt by these cuts, Senators will not feel the adverse effects of that. Here are some of the programs at risk:

Tim Moore takes propaganda to a whole new level

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Babbling his nonsense on a national platform:

As President Donald Trump and the United States Congress finalize the details of their tax reform proposals, they need look no further than North Carolina as the bellwether for pro-growth policies to accelerate the nation’s economy rooted in tax relief.

Successful tax reform at the federal level will require the same long-term commitment to meaningful relief and structural improvements that worked in the Old North State. What the American public needs is an evolution in pro-growth tax policies under constant review and necessary iterations that improve the national economy for the long-term.

The only growth we've seen in North Carolina is the gap in wealth between the haves and the have nots. Frankly, The Hill has just dropped several rungs on the ladder of credibility by publishing Tim Moore's campaign rhetoric dressed up as an essay. I mean, it's bad enough we have to put up with it, but why expose everybody else to these mindless ramblings:

Monday Numbers: On gold mines and shafts

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Chris Fitzsimon exposes the unfairness of GOP tax "reform":

20—amount in dollars of the average federal tax cuts in 2027 for households with children earning less than $75,000 under GOP tax framework released in late September.

230,000—amount in dollars of the average tax cuts in 2027 for households with children earning $1 million or more under GOP tax framework released in late September.

If this issue merely affected income tax rates, it would be bad enough. Even Reagan-era tax cuts gave a nod to the middle class, and his efforts to minimize deficit problems targeted tax shelters for the wealthy, and not deductions everybody used. But these new tax cuts rely heavily on deep cuts to the social safety net, Medicaid in particular:

E.A.T.S. Guidelines for issue advocacy in the Internet age

Notes from a recent class I gave to progressive activists:

EXPOSURE: Try to reach the widest audience possible when you are advocating for a specific issue. Although their circulation has dropped considerably, even small local newspapers will reach thousands of people, and LTE’s are a great communication tool. Social media on the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can reach even more if something you write goes viral. But be prepared for pushback.

Follow me below the fold for more discussion on this topic:

Monday Numbers: The devastation of Trump's attack on ACA subsidies

No matter how you slice it, this is incredibly bad for most Americans:

25—percentage increase projected by the Congressional Budget Office in health premiums for medium-cost plans on the ACA health exchanges when cost-sharing subsidies under the heath care law are eliminated.

200 billion—amount in dollars of the increase in the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years the CBO projects when cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act are ended.

1 million—number of Americans the CBO projects will lose coverage when cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act end because of no insurance carriers in their markets.

For every action there's a reaction, and sometimes that reaction is much greater than the action, and not just "equal and opposite." The domino effect from pulling even one of the critical elements out of the ACA could be catastrophic, and you can look to NC's refusal to expand Medicaid as proof if you need it.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act is still in place

But Trump is making it more difficult to enroll:

You might not know it from the political rhetoric, but the Affordable Care Act is still the law. Every American is still legally required to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty of at least $695. There will still be plans available on the exchanges in every county, and the federal government will still provide the subsidies that help more than 9 million people afford their premiums.

But while much is the same, the actual sign-up process will look very different. The Trump administration has made an array of changes that, taken together, will make the process more rushed and more confusing, consumer advocates and insurance experts told STAT.

And you can bet your bottom dollar Trump and his GOP cronies in Congress will continue to chew on this like rats nibbling on an electric cable. Aside from radically shortening the window of opportunity for enrollment, they're shutting the site down nearly every Sunday during this year's period:

NC's uninsured rate drops substantially thanks to ACA

And no thanks to the Obama-hating GOP:

North Carolina experienced another drop in the number of individuals without health insurance to a record low of 10.4 percent in 2016, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Since the federal Affordable Care Act went into full effect in 2014, the share of people without insurance in North Carolina has dropped from 15.6 percent.

However, the rate could be significantly lower if the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 of the 1.04 million North Carolinians who still lack health insurance.

That 5% is huge, close to a half-million people. People who are much less likely now to be forced to either ignore health problems or be plunged into financially-crippling medical debt. I've mentioned this before, but several years ago, when I first left the Army, I managed a discount furniture store North of Durham. We used a couple of finance companies to help people borrow money for new furniture, but at least half of those who applied were turned down because of unpaid medical bills. I'm talking some 40-50 families every week, whose credit was so bad even high interest loans were off the table. Medical debt doesn't just impact the bottom 20%, it threatens the entire middle class. But people like this guy just don't care:

Monday numbers: How to put state government on life support

The sheer magnitude of irresponsibility is breathtaking:

528 million—amount in dollars of the cost of the tax cuts enacted in the two-year budget passed by the General Assembly this year (Ibid)

900 million—amount in dollars of the full cost of the tax cuts passed by the General Assembly this year when fully in place (Ibid)

3.5 billion—amount in dollars of lost revenue thanks to the combined tax changes made by the General Assembly since 2013 (Ibid)

It's rare for me to be able to summon analogies on Mondays, I usually just hunker down and wait for the coffee to do its magic. But today, I have two analogies warring for my attention, derived from recent news stories, which I believe accurately reflect Republicans' actions. The first has to do with termites eating away at the foundations of a house, year after year, until the house actually collapses from weakened timbers. If that doesn't trick your trigger, there's also the sinkhole phenomenon: Groundwater erosion which slowly washes away soil and mineral deposits, creating unseen gaping voids of missing support, which inevitably eventually collapse, dragging the house down in the process. Okay, I might need more coffee, but you get the picture. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, and the displacement of mass or energy in a formula alters that formula in its entirety. These tax cuts are not "rhetorical," and neither will be the results. And we will have to live with those results for years to come.

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