The President’s Take On The Tax Cuts:

President Trump never really pretended that the GOP was working on Tax Reform as he kept touting the new bills as the biggest tax cuts in history…something that isn’t even true anyway. But here’s what he had to say in Thursday’s White House email:

“As we speak, Congress has reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages, and massive tax relief for American families and for American companies,” the President said.

Here’s the President’s case by the numbers:

•$2,000+: What the typical family of four earning $75,000 will see in income tax cuts, slashing their tax bill in half
•$4,000: How much incomes are expected to rise across the board as a result of tax cuts on U.S. businesses
•1/3: The amount one sample Ohio family in the 25-percent bracket and paying nearly $14,000 in taxes would reduce their yearly tax burden
•3%: The level of growth the U.S. economy has already surged to—tax reform would take it even further

Wanna see the president talk about the tax cuts and the families that he brought to the White House to prove his point? Click here!!

Tax Cuts Don’t Equal Tax Reform!

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been wanting to pull a Tax Reform initiative out of his hat for years. And now the talk around tax reform is front and center as the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House. But the current resident of the White House, President Donald Trump, when he talks about tax reform only touts the biggest tax cuts in history. And right now, tax cuts on their own, are the last thing we need.

I would be the last one to say we couldn’t stand a good round of talks and passage of a reasonable tax reform bill. I don’t think many in elected positions around the country would disagree with that. A fair and simple tax code is a good goal to work towards. But a tax reform bill that is simply a huge massive tax cut doesn’t solve any of our problems.

And if we look at Kansas (and we’ve talked about the near bankruptcy of Kansas due to unprincipled and illogical tax cuts before), some of the provisions of the current tax bill, culled from the Kansas ‘experiment’, will put the economy and government at risk.

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R -WI) extols the virtues of tax reform in an op-ed piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He dredges up the early history of President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and ignores the reversals later in his administration when revenue shortages at the federal level starting to hurt…and the resulting economic issues cost his VP, President George ‘watch my lips’ Bush, a second term as president. They didn’t work as advertised then and won’t work now.

Despite the talk around helping the middle class with tax cuts…the largest cuts still will go to businesses and the wealthy. One goal of tax reform should be flattening out the income inequality across the country. And despite that talk around who the tax reform bill will help, the bill itself is still just talking points and no real policy. What are we (regal we, since the Democrats haven’t been included yet) even talking about without the actual details needed to exclaim a new tax policy.

And I am not the only one concerned that the Republicans may be limiting the tax reform initiative to tax cuts. The Milwaukee Journal editorial board has the same suspicions:

And we agree: True tax reform, along the lines of the 1986 reform, in which tax rates are adjusted and loopholes are closed, would be a good and significant accomplishment.

Settling for only a tax cut would not.

With so many demands on the federal Treasury including a reboot of the war in Afghanistan and big bills for hurricane damage in the Gulf Coast, that’s a recipe for exploding the deficit.

But given the direction the GOP appears to be heading — toward satisfying a highly compensated Republican donor class — their efforts may end up being a tax cut marketed as “reform.” Don’t buy this line.

That previous link includes some video of the MJS editors talking with Speaker Ryan about tax reform. And if you want to see what Politifact Wisconsin has to say about the current tax reform plan: Is GOP tax reform framework aimed at giving breaks to the middle class, not high-income earners? Spoiler alert: For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.

Nothing wrong with tax reform…if it protects the middle class…protects the needs of the federal budget…and helps even out the disparities in society.

Did You Get a 8.5% Raise Last Year?

No? Neither did I…and I didn’t make $11.5 million in salary, stock and bonuses like the average CEO. That CEO made 347 times more than the average employee in their firm. Do you think any CEO is worth that? Is your CEO worth 347 times your worth to the company?

So let’s keep that 8.5% and 347 times the average salary and an average $11.6 income for CEOs in mind as the American Health Care Act works its way through Congress and they strip out the taxes on the wealthy that provide health insurance for the least of us.

And keep that in mind when they get down to work on their Tax Cut (I mean Tax Reform) bill later this year or next. Do those people really need a tax break? At the expense of the rest of us as the federal deficit balloons even further.

The great populist, President Donald Trump, and the great tax maven, House Speaker Paul Ryan aren’t going to do anything that will decrease the gulf between you or me and our CEOs. The inequity in income will continue to grow and grow on their watch.

Is that what we really want?

Yes or No on Walker budget items #4

In a piece at Urban Milwaukee, Steve Walter posits 12 Key State Budget Decisions with brief descriptions from Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 biennial Wisconsin budget and asks if we are for or against. I will take a stab at each one…one at a time:

4.Self-insure for health care: Beginning Jan. 1, should state government self-insure for health care for employees and retirees? The governor’s budget assumes that will save $60 million over 18 months, and spends that money on aid to K-12 schools and pay raises for UW System employees. Opponents of self-insuring call it risky and warn that it could end up costing much more than the current system. Yes/No

This may be risky business in that it may not pay off. As we have seen over the past few decades and in particular during the Obamacare era, health insurance is tricky. Even the professionals don’t get it right. But I have worked for a number of employers who have self-insured over the years and some that participated in a co-op of sorts. It seems to work for them.

So I vote yes on this assuming the state has the expertise or hires the expertise (and pays for the expertise they need) to run this thing right. It can’t be left to the lackeys and sycophants that Governor Walker is so fond of appointing to state departments. And if it doesn’t work…there’s always back to private insurers.

Now the side question: with the general national movement to repeal Obamacare and put health insurance back into the hands of for profit private insurance companies, where in heavens name did Governor Walker come up with this plan? Or is someone in Madison actually reading John Torinus?

Yes or No on Walker budget items #2

In a piece at Urban Milwaukee, Steve Walters posits 12 Key State Budget Decisions with brief descriptions from Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 biennial Wisconsin budget and asks if we are for or against. I will take a stab at each one…one at a time:

2.UW tuition freeze: Should a four-year freeze on resident undergraduate tuition on UW campuses continue for a fifth year? Yes/No

Yes by all means…we should provide as inexpensive an university education as we can for the citizens of Wisconsin. But that doesn’t mean that we should deprive the university of the revenue it needs to continue to provide world class education nor world class research. State support of the university must make up any deficits that result. And eventually it would be great to move to a tuition free UW system for Wisconsinites all around.

Previously published:
Yes or No on Walker budget items #1