Monday, March 27, 2017

GOPs fiscal follies on full display- both in DC and Madison

Now that the Republicans have bombed in their attempt to remake health care in America, they’re turning their eyes toward screwing up something else- the country’s tax system. Max Ehrenfreund had a good article in today’s Washington Post Wonkblog going over how the GOP “Freedom Caucasians Caucus” and other Republicans would like to reform the country’s tax code.

To no one’s surprise, these plans include steep tax cuts, especially for the rich and corporate. But there are two intriguing developments in Ehrenfreund’s article that don’t make the “conservatives” seem that conservative. One involves them backtracking on a “flatter tax” plan that would have removed popular deductions for items such as mortgage interest and chartiable giving. Alleged Wisconsinite Paul Ryan kept those deductions in his asterisk-ridden budget plan, and while that may be the starting point for GOP discussions on taxes, it also means the budget deficit will go up.

Remarkably, after crying crocodile tears about the increasing national debt for 8 years under President Obama, these guys in GOP-land now aren’t as concerned with driving up the federal budget deficit now that they have a Republican in the White House who might sign off on those tax cuts.
Closing loopholes could, in theory, allow Republicans to deliver their promised rate cuts without decreasing the total revenue going to the government — a combination that would keep the new legislation from adding to the federal debt.

Under Ryan's plan, by contrast, reduced taxes would mean the federal government would give up at least $2.5 trillion in revenue over a decade, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The figure accounts for increased economic growth, so that is $2.5 trillion that the federal government would have to borrow — unless lawmakers found other ways of limiting deductions and loopholes or federal expenditures to save money.

So far, members of the Freedom Caucus have indicated they could accept a plan that implied more borrowing. They are less concerned about closing loopholes than they are about making sure rates go down and that, in general, Americans pay less in taxes.

"I think there's been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts and conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told ABC News on Sunday on "This Week," arguing that tax cuts would provide financial relief for ordinary American families.

"Does it have to be fully offset?" Meadows asked. "My personal response is no.”
Even the shiba inu that we are dogsitting can recognize that this means a return to the Bush-era GOP mentality of “deficits don’t matter.” Now contrast that statement to a bill sponsored by Wisconsin Republicans that is getting a hearing tomorrow in Assembly and Senate committees at the Wisconsin State Capitol (scheduled at the same time for both Committees, conveniently). Here’s what it says.
Whereas, 49 states, by constitution or statute, require a balanced budget; and

Whereas, the legislature of the State of Wisconsin supports the federal government operating under a balanced budget; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the assembly, the senate concurring, That the legislature of the State of Wisconsin herewith respectfully applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention for proposing amendments, for the limited purpose of requiring the federal government to operate under a balanced budget; and, be it further

Resolved, That the secretary of state of the State of Wisconsin be, and is hereby, directed to forward a proper authenticated copy of this resolution to the President of the Senate of the United States, and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States; and, be it further

Resolved, That this resolution constitutes a continuing application for a convention for proposing amendments in accordance with Article V of the Constitution of the United States until such a convention is convened on the same subject or until the legislature of the State of Wisconsin rescinds this resolution.
Well, that seems like a helluva conflict with the direction things are going with Republicans in DC, where they’re planning to drive up deficits to even higher levels due to unfunded tax cuts. To then turn around and force the budget to be balanced would require massive cuts in services, increased taxes, and sizable cuts in aid to state governments, leading to more budgetary problems at that level.

I’ve also pointed out that this is hypocritical for WisGOPs to be part of this “balanced budget” sham, since they have approved budgets with borrowing in each of the last 6 years, including $850 million for roads for 2015-17, and sizable amounts for new buildings. In fact, Wisconsin was in record debt at the end of 2016, at over $8.07 billion. In DC, when we borrow money for items, that’s an increase in the deficit, and we sell Treasury bonds to get the cash up front to pay for it. AJR21,2,20So why are WisGOP legislators even discussing this Constitutional Convention pipe dream when we can’t even live up to this standard ourselves, and it forces unrealistic and economically damaging restrictions on our federal government?

State Rep. Chris Taylor knows exactly where this foolish, double-standard idea of a “balanced budget Constitutional convention” comes from- the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). She’s gone behind the scenes at ALEC’s annual meeting the last 4 years, and describes how this bill was peddled to GOP puppet legislators, and what the ultimate goal really is (hint: it isn’t about balancing the budget).

At my first ALEC conference in 2013, Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) rolled out the “Convention of States” campaign. Their scheme was to get 34 states to pass resolutions calling for an Article V Convention of States, provided for in the U.S. Constitution, in order to propose constitutional amendments that severely limit the government’s ability to regulate and spend. CSG’s Mark Meckler, founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and his colleague Michael Farris railed against the federal government, civil rights, and social safety nets. Meckler proselytized like a preacher at a church revival, exhorting us to use our power as state legislators to save the country and join their movement, for which we would be handsomely rewarded with bundled campaign contributions and grassroots support. We were given a model Article V constitutional convention resolution, urged to save the Republic, and sent on our way.

One of my Republican colleagues was sitting several rows in front of me, and I knew then this effort would come to Wisconsin. His resolution, which would make Wisconsin the 30th state calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose a balanced budget amendment, will soon be considered by the Wisconsin legislature….

After CSG’s presentation, a representative from the right-wing Madison Coalition asked about my thoughts on such an effort. I told him I didn’t think people would go for it. He replied that because Republicans controlled so many state governments and the corporations pushing these changes had unlimited money to spend, they didn’t really need the people.

That sums up ALEC. ALEC’s drive to amend our constitution has nothing to do with actual people and everything to do with their big corporate backers. They want to stop the federal government from protecting our environment, giving workers a voice at the table, paying fair wages, and giving the economy a boost during recessions. To them, government is not about the people, but the most powerful doing what they want, when they want, and to whom they want.
100% correct, Rep. Taylor. This is about removing barriers to corporate power and reducing the average person to a feudal serf at the whims of the CEOs and other oligarchs.

Do GOPs in 2017 have a clue about how these things tie together between the state and federal governments? Do they just throw this shit out there for talking points to stir up the rubes without ever planning to pass it into law (like many admitted they did for years with their “repeal Obamacare” bills under Obama)? Or do they truly have no idea about what they’re doing, and are just following the orders of their puppetmasters?

Whatever the reason, if any of your state legislators are in favor of this Article V garbage, they are fools and traitors, and need to be removed ASAP, before the country follows this state down the drain of unchecked, pro-corporate austerity.

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