Category Archives: Income Inequality

Donald Trump doesn’t understand Haiti, immigration or American history

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After Haiti signed its Declaration of Independence from France, in 1804, the U.S. started a 60-year political and economic embargo that hobbled the young nation’s growth. Wikimedia

Chantalle F. Verna, Florida International University

Donald Trump’s denigrating comments about Haiti during a recent congressional meeting shocked people around the globe, but given his track record of disrespecting immigrants, they were not actually that surprising.

Despite campaign promises that Trump would be Haiti’s “biggest champion,” his administration had already demonstrated its disregard for people from this Caribbean island. In November 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would end the Temporary Protected Status that had allowed 59,000 Haitians to stay in the U.S. after a calamitous Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.

Their TPS was extended after Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti again in 2016. Without protected status, these Haitian migrants have until July 2019 to get a green card, leave voluntarily or be deported. Continue reading

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Viral Video of Hospital Dumping Woman Into Freezing Cold Stirs Demand for ‘Medicare for All

“Attempted murder” is how one analyst described the medical center’s decision to leave an incapacitated young woman at a bus stop in frigid weather

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-12-2018

A video screenshot of a woman who was discharged from University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Imamu Baraka/Facebook video screenshot)

Described as a horrifying depiction of “the reality of U.S. for-profit healthcare,” a Baltimore-based psychotherapist this week caught on video University of Maryland Medical Center staff “dumping” a clearly incapacitated young woman into the freezing Maryland weather wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks.

“Is this what healthcare in Baltimore City has come to?” asked Imamu Baraka, who captured the “disturbing” scene on his cell phone. The video has since garnered more than two million views.

Watch:

Baraka’s video soon sparked national headlines and widespread outrage, with many noting that “patient dumping” is a pervasive and under-discussed product of a system that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to all.

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, concluded that the only solution is to “implement single-payer, Medicare for All or Americans continue to suffer/die.”

Others echoed DeMoro’s call, arguing that the medical center’s behavior is essentially “attempted murder.

The hospital issued an apology following the flood of outrage, taking “full responsibility for this failure” to provide “basic humanity and compassion.”

“We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action,” hospital spokeswoman Lisa Clough said in a statement.

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‘No One Should Be Fooled’: Warren Rips Trump’s HHS Pick Over Desire to Gut Medicaid

“You want to smile and pretend otherwise until you get the job,” Warren said.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-9-2018

Alex Azar. Screenshot: YouTube

While President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Alex Azar—a former pharma executive—spent most of his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday ducking and dodging pointed questions about his long history of “price gouging,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) decided to call Azar out on his support for gutting Medicaid and turning the program into a block grant.

After Azar suggested he supports block granting Medicaid as a “concept to look at” but refused to say whether he would move in that direction if confirmed, Warren said, “Mr. Azar, you can own up to the fact that you want to cut Medicaid and gut the Affordable Care Act, like every other member of the Trump administration.”

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‘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

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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

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‘Horrifying Step Backwards’ as Sessions Retracts Guidance Designed to End Abuse of Poor by Courts

Attorney General abandons directive to protect the poor from needless fines

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2017

Civil rights advocates accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of “turning back the clock” on criminal justice reforms after the Department of Justice rescinded Obama-era guidance that protected low-income defendants from being forced to pay gratuitous fees to local courts.

“Profit-minded court policies targeting the most economically vulnerable Americans have resulted in a resurgence of unconstitutional but widespread practices penalizing the poor and people of color,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. “Attorney General Jeff Session’s decision to retract guidance from the Justice Department rooting out practices resulting in a perpetual cycle of fines, debt and jail of America’s poor is a horrifying step backwards in ongoing efforts to reform the criminal justice system.” Continue reading

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#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

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As Final Tax Scam Vote Looms, Demands for McConnell to Seat Doug Jones ‘Immediately’

“Alabama voters deserve to have their voices heard in this fight.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 12-13-2017

After “bigotry and hatred were defeated at the polls” in Alabama on Tuesday, progressives turned their sights toward defeating the GOP’s attempt to deliver a trillion-dollar tax cut to the wealthy, demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “immediately” seat newly elected Sen. Doug Jones before a final vote on the Republican tax bill.

Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), said in a statement late Tuesday that Jones’s victory represents a repudiation of “the Trump-GOP agenda” and implored Republicans to “re-evaluate their support for the monstrous tax bill that will rip healthcare away from millions while raising taxes on middle class families.” Continue reading

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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

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‘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

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