US cuts tax for rich at expense of students & workers


‘SENATE votes to hand huge tax giveaways to the rich paid for by students and working families,’ said the National Education Union (NEA) on Saturday.

On Saturday, the Senate approved the GOP tax plan that will offer huge tax cuts for US corporations and the wealthiest Americans and likely increase the budget deficit by $1 trillion in a decade.

The NEA warned: ‘Funding for 250,000 education jobs at risk if Congress eliminates state and local tax deduction.’ Its statement said: ‘Today, the Senate approved along party lines a massive tax giveaway to the wealthiest and corporations paid for by students and working families.

‘In addition to adding $1.5 trillion to the national deficit, the Senate voted to partially repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which would leave 13 million Americans uninsured and result in drastic spikes in insurance premiums for millions more.

‘The bill also expands an education tax loophole that would further benefit the wealthy and allow them to set aside money for religious school expenses – essentially a voucher programme for wealthy families.

‘Also, as the Washington Post reported, the bill could jeopardise the ability of states and local communities to adequately fund public education to the tune of $370 billion over 10 years, potentially risking state funding for 370,000 education jobs.

‘The Senate approved the measure even as the non-partisan Centre for Budget and Policy Priorities, in a new report titled “A Punishing Decade for School Funding,” found that public investment in K-12 schools has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade.’

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement: ‘Hypocrisy is at the heart of the tax bill approved by Senate Republicans. It reveals the ill-conceived and misguided priorities of Republican leaders in Washington. Instead of providing tax cuts to those who need it most – the middle class and working families – their plan hands massive tax giveaways to corporate special interests and the wealthy.

‘Expanding education tax loopholes in order for wealthy families to stash away money for religious school will hurt neighbourhood public schools and students. They will eliminate the state and local deductions for working people but keep it for wealthy corporations. Millions of hard working people will see their taxes increase.

‘On top of it all, this bill will take away health care coverage for 13 million Americans and cause premiums to spike for millions more. It could also trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare in 2018 alone.

‘In the end, this disastrous bill will push crushing debt and tax increases onto the middle class while Medicare, Medicaid, and education will take the brunt of the cuts. Public schools have not fully recovered from the Great Recession.

‘Now, by eliminating the state and local tax deduction, the Senate just voted to blow a hole in state and local revenue to support public education, potentially risking the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators, exposing public school students to serious and potentially damaging consequences – ballooning class sizes and overcrowded classrooms that deprive students of one-on-one attention.

‘It is outrageous to hand massive tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporate special interests paid for by students and working families. This is a terrible bill for the American people and we need more courage from members of Congress to stop this runaway train.’

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organisation, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

US Senator Bernie Sanders denounced the newly-approved tax overhaul bill as the ‘biggest act of thievery in the modern history of this country.’ Sanders described the tax rewrite as ‘class warfare,’ saying that Republicans are ‘looting the federal government’ in order to give handouts to corporations and the rich.

Sanders made the remarks on Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, at an event that was part of a four-city tour against the Republican tax bill organised by progressive groups and Not One Penny. He said: ‘We are winning the fight for the vision of the future of America. Our vision, your vision, is gaining momentum all across this country.’

A statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in response to the Republican tax bill passing the Senate said: ‘The GOP tax bill that passed the Senate by one vote is nothing but an attack on America’s workers.

‘We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits. President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country.

‘The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that creates jobs.’

GOP tax plans should make Americans angry, says United Auto Workers union (UAW) president Dennis Williams.

He said: ‘House Republicans released their so-called tax reform plan recently showing how out of touch they are with working people in this country. It’s not a tax reform plan at all but a tax cut plan for corporations and billionaires. Taxes, rates, interest deductions – it all sounds boring and that’s exactly how they want you to feel about it.

‘But you should be angry. This tax plan is infuriating for many reasons and here are a few: First of all, the GOP thinks the middle class makes $450,000 a year. Talking points released to help Republicans sell the plan says the bill would lower the tax rate “for low- and middle-income Americans” from 39.6 per cent to 35 per cent.

‘But as critics immediately pointed out, that rate starts at incomes around $450,000 or higher. According to the US Census Bureau, the median income in the US is $59,000 a year. Either the GOP is so out of touch that they really don’t know what a typical working family makes or that’s how they plan to disguise their tax cut to the wealthy – by reclassifying what middle class means.

‘Another problem with this bill that should make your blood boil is it’s a job killer because it creates incentives to outsource jobs overseas. With this bill, a business that creates jobs in the US would pay taxes on its profits at a rate of 20 per cent, while a business that outsources its jobs overseas would often pay no US taxes on the profits it earns.

‘Currently, US corporations pay the same rate no matter where the profit is made but with the GOP tax plan offshore profits are taxed at as little as 0 per cent. Instead of encouraging corporations to create jobs, it rewards them for offshoring and making products overseas. With this plan, people lose the ability to take tax deductions for college loans, high medical bills, moving costs and state and local income taxes.

‘Teachers can’t deduct school supplies. Firefighters can’t deduct state and local sales taxes and working men and women who are forced to relocate or else lose their job can’t deduct moving expenses. But corporations will be allowed to take all of these deductions. Who writes a tax plan giving corporations a break but not teachers, firefighters or working people?

‘In response to criticism that the House bill doesn’t help the middle class, the Senate GOP came out with their own tax plan. Their plan only delayed a cut in the corporate tax rate by one year and still favours corporations over individuals. In fact, as of this writing, the Senate’s most recent tweak to the plan makes individual tax breaks temporary but those for corporations are permanent.

‘Neither GOP tax bill addresses the carried interest loophole which has allowed wealthy hedge fund managers and real estate investors to pay a lower tax rate on their incomes than what working people have to pay on theirs.

‘The president vowed to end this scam many times during his campaign calling hedge fund managers “paper pushers” who are “getting away with murder.” For now, with the GOP tax plans, the paper pushers are going to keep getting rich while the middle class foots the bill. Is this a government of, by, and for the people or for corporations and billionaires?’