Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Strong Commonwealth

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I-84 closure an important reminder that the private depends on the public

Interstate 84, Oregon’s main east-west link, is closed indefinitely in stretches between Hood River and The Dalles due to the Eagle Creek Fire and unstable slopes produced by the fire. That’s hurting truckers like David Cassidy, whose livelihood is made possible by the availability of public infrastructure paid for by taxpayers.

Video Clip

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal questioned Budget Director Mick Mulvaney about Trump’s new budget proposal during the House Budget Committee hearing today.

Transcript of the exchange:

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Let’s talk about clear language and telling the American people exactly what’s happening in this budget. We are slashing, in this budget, you are slashing, Medicaid by $610 billion. Combined with the healthcare cut, that’s almost $1.5 trillion of cuts to a program that currently serves 74 million Americans. So, in plain language for the American people, that is a dramatic cut to their health care – for most people, healthcare that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

A $1.2 billion cut to Centers for Disease Control, clear English, cuts drug addiction treatment and prevention services. A $1 billion cut to housing assistance programs, including for veterans who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. We talked about infrastructure already so I won’t go into that.

Mention SNAP. This is nutritional assistance for the most needy families in our country. And, let’s just talk about the border wall for a second. This is a $1.6 billion investment into, what I call, the “Wall to Nowhere”. This is a wall, a down payment on a wall, that is ultimately gonna cost the taxpayers $40 billion according to a recent MIT study. And as Janet Napolitano once said when she was governor of Arizona, “Show me a 100 foot wall, I’ll show you a 101-foot ladder”.

This is not the solution to any of our immigration issues.

Now you’ve said, Director Mulvaney, that you should’ve called this the “Taxpayer First Budget,” but I have to ask you: Which taxpayer? Out of the almost trillion dollars in tax cuts in this budget, which are on the backs of all these other cuts we’ve mentioned, 50% of those tax cuts are gonna to the top 1%. And 75% of the tax cuts are gonna to the top 75% of income earners. So what we are doing is taking away essential benefits for working families across this country – positions that the president ran on – and putting them into the top earners in the country.

So, when you talk about ‘Trumpanomics” — I think that was the word you used in your opening statement — and you said “Let’s do anything that gets you to 3% growth,” is that the same philosophy that got the president to six separate bankruptcies… $1.8 billion in debt for Trump Hotels before he declared those bankruptcies?

I’m not really sure what “Trumpanomics” is when you look at the President’s record. So what I’d like to ask you, Director Mulvaney, is can you explain how taking away from programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the disabled and student loan repayments — one of the top issues in this country, Republicans and Democrats alike $1.4 trillion dollars in student loan debt right now — Can you explain how that benefits the economy or working families across this country?

And I might reclaim my time to just to make sure, but let’s start there.

TRUMP BUDGET DIRECTOR MICK MULVANEY: I… I… I can try. Because folks are throwing me notes because you raised a bunch of issues so let me do this this in as rapid form as I possibly can. CHIP is being extended; it’s not being reduced. Total spending on drug treatment goes up; it’s not being reduced.

You use the word “plain language”, slashing Medicaid to most people — plain language slashing Medicaid  would mean we spend less next year than we did this year. That’s what a slash means, right? That’s what you hear? No. It’s not true. I think it’s one year in a ten-year window when we have a little kind of tiny dip because of the cliff that’s caused by the AHCA on the Medicaid expansion states.

But generally speaking, across the budget all we do is slow the rate of growth. Which is to say we will be spending more on Medicaid every single year, again I think except one. And you can call that a slash but I’m telling you back home, people say you slash spending on something, I think they would expect you to think that you’re spending less money one year versus the previous year.

The SNAP: What we do on SNAP is a couple different things, and again we can take more time on this if you like. We do ask for an able body work requirement. We can go into the fact that SNAP went up dramatically during the downturn from I think roughly 28 million people on the program before the recession to 47 million people on the program at the height of the recession.

I think the most recent number we have is roughly 42 or 44 million. We’re back near what we like to call full employment. We’ve had several years of a slow but growing economy. Don’t we think that maybe some of those folks —

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: I’m gonna… I’m gonna reclaim my time. I’m sorry — we’re limited so I’m sorry for that. But I think if you look at what the American people thought about the Republican healthcare bill, you’ll see that that slash in Medicaid is in a fact a slash in Medicaid, that even a Republican governor spoke out against it.

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Where anti-tax fervor means ‘all services will cease’

Southwestern Oregon’s public services are rotting away or shutting down due to voter unwillingness to pay dues to keep them running. The New York Times looks at the collapse of the commons in an often-ignored area of the Pacific Northwest.

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Washington state ranks nearly last in new tax-transparency index

“Ranked second from the bottom in a new report, the state’s tax system makes it tough for taxpayers to find out just how much they’re coughing up to the government. Oregon’s system ranks as the most transparent of all,” writes The Seattle Times’ Gene Balk.

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Closures come for libraries around Oregon’s Douglas County; central public library in Roseburg closes May 31st

What happens when a vital public service is starved of resources? It shuts down. Without enough funding to keep the doors open, authorities in Oregon’s Douglas County are closing its libraries, leaving 8,500 cardholders stranded. “We simply don’t have the money anymore,” Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif told The Register Guard of Eugene.

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When you dial 911 and Wall Street answers

“Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have increasingly taken over public services like emergency care and firefighting, often with dire effects,” The New York Times reports.

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As oil money disappears, Alaska mulls first income tax in thirty-five years

Drill, baby, drill. For years, that silly slogan has been a part of the Republican lexicon. But now, with global oil prices tumbling due to excess supply (caused in part by the North American oil boom), fossil fuel-dependent Alaska finds itself in a huge fiscal morass. Independent Governor Bill Walker, a former Republican, has proposed reinstituting a state income tax to ensure that the state can continue to provide public services to its citizens.

Quotation

I was so tired of partisan politics. It was all Tim Eyman and no new taxes… That’s not me. I’m interested in community building.

— Pro-transit Bellevue City Councilmember John Chelminak, explaining why he had a falling out with the Washington State Republican Party to The Seattle Times for its most recent article on Bellevue politics (Tone of Bellevue council hinges on three races). Chelminak nowadays calls himself “an excommunicated Republican.”

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Surprise! The rich benefit the most from tax breaks intend to help people build wealth

Bloomberg reports that most of the public money spent to encourage savings went to the highest-earning Americans. It’s just another reminder that trickle-down doesn’t.

Quotation

You often hear claims, sometimes from pundits who should know better, that nobody predicted a sluggish recovery, and that this proves that mainstream macroeconomics is all wrong. The truth is that many economists, myself included, predicted a slow recovery from the very beginning.

— Paul Krugman: Recovery at Last?

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California offers budgetary lessons for U.S., Stanford professor says

A Stanford law professor says California Proposition 30, passed in 2012, is worth emulating at the federal level. Proposition 30 strengthened California’s common wealth, addressing the chronic underfunding of public services in the Golden State.

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Private charities are no substitute for public services

Businessweek’s Charles Kenny explains why private charities aren’t in a position to tackle income inequality or address the needs of millions of Americans living in poverty. Part of the reason is that the super-wealthy simply aren’t voluntarily giving very much of their wealth to charity. It’s only by pooling our resources through taxes that we’ll be able to effectively combat poverty.

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Corporate tax evasion hurting America’s common wealth

The New York Times reports that corporations are finding more and more success “exploiting existing loopholes and devising new ones”. Consequently, business income taxes are not rising even though corporate profits are.

Quotation

Please donate now so we can do in Washington State what Scott Walker and my friend did in Wisconsin.

— Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe, formerly the head honcho at the Building Industry Association of Washington, appealing for funds for the right wing’s anti-worker, anti-family agenda in an email to the organization’s supporters.

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Reseacher: Tax climate isn’t what’s driving interest in inversions

A paper by Edward D. Kleinbard of the USC Gould School of Law looks at the data and concludes that, contrary to what CEOs and business groups have recently been arguing, the United States’ corporate tax code is not hindering America’s competitiveness at all.

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Andy Hill’s proposed tax breaks would cost big in the long run

The Washington Budget & Policy Center looks at the eighteen new tax breaks that Andy Hill and the Washington State Senate Republicans have proposed as part of their 2014 Supplemental Budget and concludes they will deprive the state of more than a hundred million dollars in revenue by the 2017-19 biennium.