At 2am on Saturday morning, the Senate passed the tax bill on a mostly party line vote (Corker was the one Republican to vote “no”). We already knew this bill was bad. It ends the individual mandate, stripping at least 13 million Americans of health insurance. It will lead to an increase in taxes for 87 million working and middle-class households by 2027. It increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion. And it would result in automatic cuts to key social programs, including a $25 billion cut to Medicare next year. But the Senate managed to squeeze in some last-minute additions to the bill, hours before the vote and often as handwritten notes in the margins. Here are a few of the worst.
- The bill’s special, low tax rate for “passthrough” business owners like Donald Trump was lowered even further.
- Some gas and oil operators will now be able to enjoy that lower tax rate, thanks to an amendment from Senator John Cornyn.
- Banks and other corporations will still be able to take advantage of offshore tax havens for derivatives transactions.
- A tax loophole benefiting cruise lines incorporated in foreign countries was preserved, courtesy of Senator Dan Sullivan.
- Car dealers got a special carveout from limits on interest deductions, courtesy of Senator Rand Paul.
- The legislation slashes federal alcohol taxes, a move that would cause “roughly 1,500 more people” to die from alcohol-related causes each year.
- Another corporate tax gimmick that falls under the guise of helping families with paid family and medical leave that will do nothing to provide paid leave to the millions of working people that need it the most.
- And they didn’t miss an opportunity to undermine public schools. The Vice President “cast a tie-breaking vote to pass an amendment to allow people to use up to $10,000 a year from tax-advantaged 529 savings accounts for private and religious schools and some home schooling.”
ACTION OF THE DAY
#DreamActNow. Today, people are speaking out on the need for a clean Dream Act at the Capitol. It’s clear that members of Congress have a choice: either pass bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers, or vote on a spending bill that funds their deportation. Congress must pass a clean Dream Act now because 122 Dreamers are losing protection every single day. Tune in to the Speak Out’s livestream. Then, head to DreamActToolkit.org to see who the key members of Congress are that will pass deciding votes – and call them today!
Repeal and Replace National Monuments. Trump is expected today to announce the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history. Leaked maps show that he will likely abolish both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments and replace them with five much smaller monuments with different names. The action would put tens of thousands of Native American sacred sites at risk and would undercut the idea of permanence that underpins the protection of all of America protected areas. Over 5,000 people gathered in Utah on Saturday to rally against the expected announcement. The protests continue today in Salt Lake City, Utah and D.C.
Masterpiece Cakeshop. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which “involves a Colorado bakery that discriminated against and refused to serve a gay couple in violation of Colorado’s nondiscrimination law.” The bakery is claiming a right to discriminate based on its free speech and religious expression. Though every court that has considered the issue has sided with equal treatment for same-sex couples, a win for the bakery could undermine civil rights protections for all of us across the entire country. As a backup, President Trump is nominating lawyers who have made similar arguments to lifetime jobs as federal judges. For more information about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, check out the Center for American Progress’s explainer video and research on the impact on LGBTQ people. Then, check out OpenToAll.com for more resources and how to take action.
The Biggest Health Care Deal of The Year. As everyone looks for good deals while shopping for the holidays, there’s one sale that can’t be ignored. A new report shows that “almost half (42 percent) of counties providing coverage through HealthCare.gov offer a zero-premium plan for thirty-year-olds with an income of $25,000 or less.” And in some of the highest uninsured counties, “young adults can find plans for anywhere from $8 to $43 per month.” Check out the full list of counties offering $0 premiums, and then share with friends and family! Don’t forget that the deadline to enroll is December 15 – less than two weeks to go!
Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted to move forward a piece of legislation that would require states to “allow concealed-carry permit holders from one state to legally carry their guns to any other state,” forcing states to allow non-residents to carry concealed, loaded guns even if they are not eligible to do so under the laws of that state. This extreme legislation is a dangerous encroachment on individual state efforts to protect public safety that would effectively nullify duly enacted state laws and hamper law enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence. Activists fighting for commonsense gun reform quickly came out against the bill, calling it “a chaotic and dangerous policy that would gut every state’s gun laws and make our communities less safe” and numerous law enforcement organizations oppose the bill. Congress is planning to move this dangerous legislation to weaken state gun laws even in the wake of a series of devastating mass shootings in recent months, demonstrating their interest in kowtowing to the National Rifle Association, rather than actually taking action to reduce gun violence in this country.
The War on Net Neutrality. The U.S. has long been considered a leader in the free and open internet. Yet, the Federal Communications Commission is considering ending net neutrality, a move that would have a drastic impact on peoples’ abilities to access the internet. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, joined Off-Kilter this week to talk about net neutrality, calling it the “free speech fight of our generation.” (You can learn even more about net neutrality by listening to the latest Thinking CAP podcast with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.) And the internet is not the only thing under attack. The Trump administration has launched attacks on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by appointing Mick Mulvaney as its acting director. Hear about all this and more in the latest Off-Kilter podcast!
UNDER THE RADAR
Hands Off My Birth Control. There is only one day left to submit comments to the Department of Health and Human Services about the Trump Administration’s decision to roll back the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act. This would limit the ability for millions of individuals to access birth control at little to no cost – something that could cost hundreds of dollars in out of pocket costs. Subsequently, individuals would lose their ability to plan for a family and make decisions without fear or concerns of costs. we only have one day left to submit comments in opposition to HHS. Share your story about how birth control has impacted your life using Generation Progress’s easy to use story collection tool and we will submit your comments for you.