Deficits Be Damned
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Deficits Be Damned

Republican Lawmakers Are in a Tax-Cutting Frenzy

Budget blitzkrieg. The Republican race to overhaul the tax code broke into a sprint on Thursday, with House members narrowly clearing a budget blueprint and Senate leaders saying the bill could become law by the end of November.

Republicans are trying to keep party members in line and neutralize Democrats to ram through in less than three weeks what could become a 1,000-page piece of legislation overhauling the tax code to benefit the rich. The budget measure approved 216-212 in the House would allow for a tax bill that adds as much as $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over a decade. Twenty House Republicans voted against it.

The federal government’s debt has already topped $20 trillion. The outline of the tax plan would cut the corporate income tax rate to 20% from 35% and nearly double the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. House Republicans are considering lowering the pretax amounts that Americans can contribute to 401k retirement plans each year.

According to DCReport’s tax expert David Cay Johnston, the Republican tax-cut plan will return less than one cent for every dollar earned by middle-class taxpayers while the billionaire-class Republican constituency will reap a windfall. Trump himself could see an annual tax savings of $14.6 million, or more.

“It’s easy to understand why they want to rush a bill like this though because the more people see it, the less they’ll like it,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Defang consumer protection. Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to kill a federal rule protecting consumers’ right to file class-action lawsuits after his office asked an industry group how to defang the federal bureau that created the rule. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized the rule earlier this year, and financial firms have campaigned to rescind it. The American Financial Services Association delivered a nine-point plan to Pence’s top economist that included ending the rule which blocks financial institutions from requiring customers to agree to forced arbitration clauses that block them from joining class-action lawsuits.

Teen wins. A 17-year-old at the center of a legal case about abortion access for undocumented minors had an abortion. The Trump administration delayed her plans to get an abortion by about a month. The Office of Refugee Resettlement in Brownsville, Texas, tried to block the young woman from making the medical appointments for an abortion. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton supported the federal government’s position and argued that “unlawfully present aliens with no ties to the United States have no constitutional right to an abortion on demand.” Attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina supported Paxton’s argument. The teen got the abortion after the ACLU filed an emergency motion asking for all 10 active members of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to hear the case and the appeals court ruled that she could have the procedure.

Farmers lose. The U.S. Department of Agriculture threw out an Obama-era rule that made it easier for small farmers to sue over allegations of mistreatment by large companies. The rule would have let a lawsuit proceed if only one farmer had been harmed instead of having to show that the mistreatment would harm an entire industry. Industry lobbyists such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producer’s Council and the North America Meat Institute supported undoing the Obama rule.

October 27, 2017