Posts by diana polson

A $4,000-pay raise? Nope. Since Trump’s tax cut, businesses spending 39 times as much on stock buybacks than on wages or bonuses.

“My council of economic advisors estimate that this [tax cut], along with a lower business tax rate, will likely give the typical American household around a $4000 pay raise. And that is money that will be spent.” – Donald Trump, October 17, 2017 at the Heritage Foundation’s annual President’s Club meeting.

Don’t be Fooled: The Extension of the Trump Tax Bill Primarily Benefits the Rich, Just Like the Original Law Does

Tax day is around the corner and many Pennsylvanians are busy gathering their W-2s, 1099s and other financial documents to submit their taxes for 2017. Meanwhile some Congressional leaders are making the case to extend temporary provisions to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which will expire after 2025. Republicans pushing for this legislation are spinning it as making permanent the benefits to the middle class. But, don’t be fooled.

A new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy documents how the extension of these so-called “middle class tax cuts” will continue to primarily benefit the richest Americans and will leave the poorest 20% paying higher taxes on average in 2026 than if the bill was never enacted.

Why “Get a Job!” is not the answer to decreasing reliance on food stamps

“Just get a Job!”

I’ve heard these words yelled out of car windows when I marched alongside poor and homeless people fighting for affordable housing and living wage jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 2000s. It’s a slogan many who have waited in lines at soup kitchens or homeless shelters have heard again and again.

Get a Job! The belief that anyone who wants to work can get a job permeates our society and has crept into the thinking in both conservative and liberal circles. But this mindset has not emerged out of nowhere – it has been constructed and refined over the last 50 years by conservative scholars, policy wonks pursuing welfare reform and right-wing think tanks (for a detailed description see Lucy Williams article, “Decades of Distortion: The Right’s 30-Year Assault on Welfare”). Alice O’Connor, in her book Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in Twentieth Century U.S. History (2002) traced the shift in the study of poverty from a focus on low wages and labor exploitation during the Progressive era to its framing as an individualized problem due to personal failings and the behavioral characteristics of the poor that culminated in welfare reform in the 1990s.

Governor Wolf’s proposed education budget finally restores Corbett's K-12 classroom funding cuts but inequities and inadequate funding still remain

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Governor Wolf’s proposed education budget finally restores K-12 classroom funding cuts (in nominal dollars) from the Corbett years, but Pennsylvania still has a long way to go to reach funding equity and adequacy.

Governor Wolf’s Executive Budget for 2018-19 proposes increases in K-12 education for the fourth year in a row. His proposal this year, if accepted, reaches an important milestone—the disastrous cuts to education instituted under Tom Corbett will be restored. 

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act will Worsen Inequality in Pennsylvania

President Trump signed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. While spun by Republicans in Congress as a boon to middle class Americans, as a factual matter this tax cut is a not-so-veiled transfer of income into the hands of the already wealthy, which will worsen inequality in our state and across the country.

Let’s put this legislation in context. Over the last 25 years, incomes for the very richest Pennsylvanians has been rising fast while incomes for the majority of us have been stagnant. In fact, in Pennsylvania the top 1% has captured 44 cents of every dollar of income growth since 1979 (Keystone Research Center). Low-wage workers, even those who work full time, can’t make ends meet. Meanwhile Pennsylvania has not raised the minimum wage in 10 years and many low wage workers are forced to rely on government programs for health care and food stamps.  At this time of extreme inequality in our country and our state, the injustice of this federal tax legislation is shameful.

The Pennsylvania Promise - Affordable College for all Pennsylvanians

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Pennsylvania is barreling towards a future where only the descendants of the well-off will have access to quality higher education. Or perhaps we are already there. See the figure below, which shows high performing, high-income youth are more likely (74%) than high scoring, low-income youth (41%) to complete college (columns in blue):

The GOP-Backed Tax Bill: A Lose-Now, Lose-More-Later Plan for Low- and Middle-Income Americans

GOP-backed tax bills have passed both the House and the Senate. Many of us have already seen charts which show how, under these plans, low and middle-income families will eventually see their taxes raised (by 2027), while the top 1% sees huge savings (see, for example, the chart below showing the Senate bill’s impact on Pennsylvania). What hasn’t been discussed as much is that these bills are step one in a two-part process, designed to severely cut critical government programs.

Our Upside-Down Tax System

The Pew Research Center released the findings from a recent survey (conducted April 5-11, 2017) that shows an increasing number of Americans find our current tax system unfair.

What do people believe is most unfair about our tax system? Nearly 2/3 (62%) of Americans are bothered “a lot” because some corporations do not pay their fair share in taxes; 60% are equally bothered because some wealthy people don’t pay their fair share.

A significantly less number of Americans are bothered by the amount they pay in taxes (only 27% are bothered “a lot” by this).

A Growing Movement to Provide Earned Sick Leave Could Be Quashed in PA

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Earlier today I blogged about legislation in Pennsylvania that would prevent city and local governments from ensuring private-sector workers receive paid time off when they get sick — and why that is bad for Pennsylvania’s workers, economy, public health, and democracy.

This bill is being pushed in the state capital in response to a recent Philadelphia effort to enact an earned sick leave law that passed City Council but was vetoed by Mayor Michael Nutter.

PA Should Not Pre-Empt Progress on Earned Sick Leave

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State Representative Seth Grove of York County and business lobbyists want Pennsylvania to be the latest state to pass a law stopping city and local governments from ensuring private-sector workers receive paid time off when they get sick.