Category Archives: Austerity

‘Needless and Ideologically-Driven Cruelty’: Arkansas to Become First State to Implement Trump’s Assault on Medicaid

“In a very real sense, health coverage for millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid could be at risk under the agenda Trump is advancing.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-5-2018

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma and Arkansas’ Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson at a press conference on Monday. (Photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson/Twitter)

The Trump administration is waging a vicious war on Medicaid—a program that provides life-saving healthcare to around 74 million Americans—and its effects will soon be felt in the state of Arkansas.

On Monday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma—who, prior to joining the Trump White House, helped craft Indiana’s punitive Medicaid restrictions—hand-delivered and signed a federal waiver granting Arkansas permission to begin imposing work requirements on the state’s Medicaid recipients, 60 percent of whom already work. Continue reading


‘We Will Stay!’ West Virginia Teachers Vote to Occupy State Capitol Until Demands Met

While some have called the West Virginia teachers’ strike “the most important story in the country right now,” MSNBC and other outlets have almost completely ignored it.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-2-2018

As the demonstrations raged on in the state capitol, West Virginia lawmakers voted against bringing a teacher pay raise bill to the Senate floor for immediate consideration, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on Friday. (Photo: Jacobin/Twitter)

Though you may not know it from the corporate media’s coverage—or lack thereof—West Virginia teachers are still striking in an effort to win both a pay raise and a permanent fix to their soaring health insurance premiums, and on Friday they voted to occupy the state capitol until their demands are met.

Watch teachers chant “We will stay!” shortly following the vote: Continue reading


House Members Are Pushing a Bill That Will Roll Back the Rights of People With Disabilities

By Susan Mizner, Disability Counsel, ACLU. Published 2-13-2018

The entrance to the post office in a small town was up a flight of 20 steps. When told he needed to make the post office accessible to wheelchair users, the postmaster was befuddled. “I’ve been here for thirty-five years and in all that time I’ve yet to see a single customer come in here in a wheelchair,” he said, according to Joe Shapiro in his 1994 book, “No Pity.”

It would seem the postmaster didn’t see the irony in that response. But it’s because of that lack of awareness from business owners and government workers that Congress in 1990 passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promoted the integration, acceptance, and everyday rights of people with disabilities. But this week, the House of Representatives could undermine a key tenet of that landmark civil rights law. Continue reading


Consumers are biggest losers of Trump’s ongoing war on regulations

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Some worry Mick Mulvaney is putting banks before consumers as head of the CFPB. Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Jeff Sovern, St. John’s University

President Donald Trump has been waging a war on regulation since he got into office on the ground that government red tape costs the economy billions of dollars a year.

Among the victors in this battle have been energy companies, banks and the president himself, who recently promised he’s “just getting started.” Perhaps the biggest losers, however, have been consumers.

The best illustration of this is the neutering of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which began immediately after Mick Mulvaney stepped in as interim director in November. Continue reading


‘Crisis No One Is Talking About’: GOP Threatens Healthcare of 26 Million People

Sens. Sanders and Baldwin demand urgent action as thousands of community health centers face uncertain future without federal funds

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-3-2018

Millions of Americans may not be able to easily access healthcare if Congress continues to withhold funding from community health clinics. (Photo: Pixnio/Flickr/cc)

While the Republican-controlled Congress finally approved funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program in late January after it lapsed in September, lawmakers have failed to renew funding for thousands of community health centers, which also expired in the fall—a move that “has quietly created a new healthcare crisis for 26 million Americans.”

“If Congress doesn’t fund community health centers,” Vox‘s Sarah Kliff details in a report published Friday, “thousands are expected to close.” Continue reading


‘Anti-Trump Rhetoric Not Enough’: Bold, Progressive Agenda Demanded for 2018

“We must act together. And we must act strategically. 2018 is the year the people fight back like never before.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-1-2018

“Empty platitudes and anti-Trump rhetoric is not enough to win seats in Congress,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). (Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr/cc)

As Republicans and President Donald Trump turn toward the new year with destruction on their minds, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined a chorus of voices in expressing the urgent need to reach beyond merely resisting the right’s agenda and articulate an inspiring alternative that will sweep progressives into positions of power.

“Here is a New Year’s resolution I hope you will share with me,” Sanders wrote on Twitter just before midnight on Sunday. “In 2018, we will not only intensify the struggle against Trumpism, we will increase our efforts to spread the progressive vision in every corner of the land.” Continue reading


Trump’s Christmas Gift to Himself: Study Details How President Will Profit Off GOP Tax Bill

Americans for Tax Fairness found that Trump could save “at least $11 million a year and perhaps as much as $22 million” from GOP tax plan he just signed

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-25-2017

Photo: YouTube

President Donald Trump has repeatedly described the Republican tax bill he signed into law on Friday as “an incredible Christmas gift” to low-income and middle class Americans—despite the numerous analyses showing that the legislation will ultimately raise taxes on millions in the middle class.

The president hasn’t, however, called the tax bill a massive “check to himself.” But a new study (pdf) published on Friday by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) demonstrates that this would, in numerous ways, be a more accurate description of the $1.5 trillion plan. Continue reading


#CorkerKickback Trends After Last-Minute Tax Giveaway Benefiting GOP Lawmakers Exposed

“He promised he wouldn’t vote for a deficit increase… Then traded his leverage for cold hard cash.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-17-2017

Senator Bob Corker. Photo: US Senate (Public domain)

Though many initially shrugged it off as just the last domino to fall in terms of ending the myth that any Republican Party lawmaker actually ever gave a whiff about the deficit, increasing evidence on Sunday reveals that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) dropped his opposition to the GOP tax proposal after the last-minute inclusion of a provision that would directly enrich him, President Trump, and other members of Congress who hold substantial financial interests in the real estate market.

As David Sirota and Josh Keefe first reported for the International Business Times on Friday night: Continue reading


We started a revolution over this once

Do you remember voting for lobbyists to decide who pays what in taxes? We don’t.

Photo: Daniel Huizinga/flickr

On Friday night, the Senate passed their version of the #GOPTaxScam. The bill, all 479 pages of it, was presented to the full Senate just hours before the vote. The vote was along party lines, with the one dissenting vote among the Republicans coming from Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

So, what was in this bill, and why did they vote on it before all the Senators could actually read through the bill? We’re glad you asked. First, what’s in it.

A lot of the bill is what you’d expect. For example:

  • The top individual rate is reduced from 39.6% to 38.5%, and the threshold at which the top rate kicks in is increased from $418,000 for a single/$480,000 for married filing jointly to $500,000/$1,000,000
  • The estate tax exemption is doubled, to $11 million for a single taxpayer and $22 million for married taxpayers.
  • The corporate rate is reduced from 35% to 20%.
  • The top rate on the income earned by owners of “flow through” businesses — S corporations and partnerships — is reduced from 39.6% to a shade below 30%.

Questions about these measure that we were forced to ask include; how is it that corporations are able to keep the tax deductions that have now been excluded from individual tax bases? Why is the corporate tax is now LOWER than the top individual rate? If corporations are people too, why is there ANY difference in these tax rates?

Then, there’s the “Why are these items in a tax bill, anyways?” parts. These include:

  • A provision that explicitly allows parents to use tax-free college savings plans, known as 529s, for a “child in utero.” This is essentially a personhood bill, setting a precedent for the legal definition of life beginning at conception.
  • The bill repeals the Johnson Amendment, which bans non-profit groups from engaging in political activism. This would mean that churches and the like could actively engage in elections without disclosing individual donors; think of it as Citizens United on steroids. This serves the purpose of blurring the lines between the separation of church and state, allowing the churches to donate and promote individual candidates in local and national elections, all while cloaked under the donation secrecy this provision allows.
  • Eliminating the individual mandate of the ACA. While this actually does deal with taxes (the fine for not being insured is paid as part of your taxes), removing the mandate means that younger and healthier people won’t buy insurance until they need it. These are the people who currently offset the cost of providing healthcare to the older and sicker people. Without this in place, premiums will rise dramatically more than the anticipated 10% over the next 10 years.
  • A provision that would open part of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil and gas exploration. While this would raise revenue, it only amounts to $2 billion over the next ten years, at the cost of almost assuredly ruining the local environment and ecosystem. Additionally, it is worded in such a way that it is actually ILLEGAL to not drill, forcing Alaska to accept ANY drilling permits and fields desired.

Of course, the individual tax cuts are set to expire, meaning that the middle class will see a tax increase. And, what’s going to pay for these? The GOP mantra’s always been that tax cuts pay for themselves, but others, such as Marco Rubio, have already admitted that the tax reform is part one of a two-step process designed to defund and eventually dismantle Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security; the very programs designed to help the elderly, disabled and poorest members of American society.

Now obviously, a lot of these proposals don’t sit well with the electorate. So, why the rush to pass it? The GOP needs a victory. Even with controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, this administration’s been notably inept in getting meaningful things accomplished. Furthermore, the GOP donor class has stated that the campaign money will dry up if they don’t get the tax cuts they want.

Photo: Represent.US

So, who came up with most of the amendments? Lobbyists. Out of the 11,000 registered lobbyists in Washington, more than 6,000 said that they worked on taxes this year. That works out to 11 lobbyists for each member of Congress. Do you remember electing lobbyists to write our laws? We sure don’t.

We still have a chance to stop this. The House and Senate bills now go to a conference committee. The bill that comes out of that will need to be passed by both houses. The healthcare fiasco this summer proves that if we’re loud and persistent enough, our message gets through. And, with the bill only having 37% approval before the vote, there’s enough of us to make the message get through.

And what if it doesn’t? The last time that the GOP had won control of both houses and the presidency before 2016 was 1928. The new tax bill looks even more extreme than the policies put into place by the Republicans after the 1928 election. Does anybody remember what happened in 1929?

Another annoying historical factoid that you may wish to remember at a time like this: 244 years ago, a group of people decided that they weren’t going to pay taxes without proper representation, and what became known as the Boston Tea Party took place. This in turn led to a revolution, and the founding of this country.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana


‘Kill the Bill, Don’t Kill Us’: Protesters Arrested as GOP Push Senate Tax Bill Forward

Resistance groups hold protests across country as Republicans clear committee vote, advancing bill to Senate floor

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-28-2017

Photo: Brynna Quillin/Twitter

As the Senate Budget Committee debated the Republican tax bill on Tuesday before passing the proposal in a 12-11 vote, about a dozen people were arrested after disrupting the meeting to demand that senators reject the bill.

The demonstrators chanted, “Kill the bill, don’t kill us,” repeating the refrain that was commonly heard in protests against the Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) over the summer. Continue reading