The Trump Tax Bill Wasn't For You

It’s Tax Day 2018, and you know what that means?  The country’s wealthiest Americans are about to experience long-term gains from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is concerned about the effects of the tax cut law and legislation that would make temporary tax cuts permenant after 2025.  A new report from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy shows that the top 1% will receive more federal tax dollars than the bottom 60% in 47 states, and the top 20% will gobble up the

"Work Requirements" and the Political Appeal of Cruelty

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We at PBPC are engaged in a major effort to push back against legislation in the PA General Assembly to create work requirements for Medicaid and SNAP. The new federal Farm Bill put forward by House Republicans, which authorizes the SNAP (Food Stamp) program, has similar provisions.

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.

Take Action Now: Food Stamp Work Requirements Will Harm People with Criminal Records Trying to Build New Lives

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The following is a guest blog post from Sharon M. Dietrich, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Litigation Director. The post originally appeared on their website here.

Proposals to toughen work requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits (food stamps) are all the rage.  Even in areas of high unemployment, low income people without children and who are not considered disabled would be permitted to receive SNAP for only 3 out of 36 months, unless they were working 20 hours per week.  The proposals are under consideration by Congress (for the Farm Bill), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly (HB 1659).

These work requirements would lead to loss of SNAP and to food insecurity among many low income Americans not fortunate enough to have work.  But one population would be especially hurt: people with criminal records.(link is external) One out of three(link is external) American adults has a criminal record.

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.

Wanted – A NAFTA and Trade Policy That Help Unrig the Economy Against Working Families

The Lamb-Saccone race in Western Pennsylvania upped the pressure on policymakers of both major political parties on trade. It expands the opportunity for progressives and progressive lawmakers to articulate and advocate for a fundamental change in U.S. trade policy in NAFTA renegotiations.

For the Trump Administration, the special election suggested that some working families are no longer willing to take the President’s word for it that he’s in their corner. That’s hardly a surprise given that the President’s actions so far have rigged the economy further against working families, the opposite of what he promised to do. That’s why some Trump voters have “buyer’s remorse” already.

Why the PA Supreme Court's Lines Should Stand

The effort by the General Assembly’s Republican leaders to have the United States Supreme Court block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to create new, fair congressional districts in our state is based on both a hypocritical attempt to undermine the rights of states and a flawed understanding of the subtle, yet fundamental, ideas of our constitutional system. The vehemence with which they are pursuing their case makes one wonder whether those ideas can survive in a day and age when so many politicians, especially on the Right, appear to have neither the intellect to understand principles that are the least bit complicated nor the integrity to follow them when they cut against the results they seek.

(Click to read the rest of the post.)

Key Sources on the Value of Unions and the Importance of Protecting Workers' Real Freedom to Join Together

Today is a little like Labor Day except with a twist: because of oral arguments today in the Supreme Court on the Janus case, editorial boards, the media, social media, and the public are all focused on workers  in this case on their freedom to join together into unions.

Given the widespread interest, here are some links new and old on unions.
 
A "two-pager" on the value of unions that draws heavily from this longer piece by the Economic Policy Institute published last year.
 
A new report by the Economic Policy Institute that documents the orchestrated, decades-old funding by right-wing individuals, foundations, and non-profits that led up to the Janus case. Today's New York Times story appears to draw heavily from the new EPI report althought it does not reference it.
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