NEWSSTAND

Nancy Pelosi Calls Tax Bill Benefits “Crumbs,” Forsakes Middle Class

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called President Donald Trump’s tax cuts a “crumb,” denigrating the wage hikes and bonuses Americans are getting in the wake of the tax reform bill.

Pelosi and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz spoke at Florida Atlantic University this week, where their comments were filmed by the conservative group America Rising Squared.

“Crumbs” for the Middle Class

The prominent Democrats dismissed that Americans are benefiting from the tax cuts, claiming that after taxes the cuts don’t amount to much of anything.

According to Pelosi and Wasserman-Schultz, the “fat cats” will get much more.

Wasserman-Schultz then explained why they believe Americans are not benefiting:

Frankly, if you look at the bonuses, which I haven’t heard of a corporate bonus more than $1,000 so far. Which by the way is taxed, so it’s not $1,000. And then you spread $1,000 over the course of the year – to think of about how much that is – of course, they get it all at once. But I’m not sure that $1,000 (which is taxed, taxable) goes very far for almost anyone.

Later, Pelosi told attendees that and tax bonuses were a piece of cheese that a mouse is about to take off of a trap.

“And around it are fat cats,” Pelosi finished. “And that’s the thing… You get the crumb, we get the banquet.”

Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is $120 million. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s net worth is a whopping $1.04 million in debt.

Americans Pay Bills on Time – Why Can’t Congress?

If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. That’s the simple rule that governs capitalist economies. Yet the U.S. Congress consistently fails to meet deadlines, and our Senators and Representatives still get paid with our tax dollars.

The “No Budget, No Pay Act” would withhold salaries from members of Congress if they do not pass a budget by the start of the fiscal year. Congress has not balanced the budget since 1998. It has not passed a concurrent budget resolution since 2010. The 2013 government shutdown cost $24 billion. This level of failure would get any other employee fired! Still, members of Congress draw their taxpayer-funded salaries even when they fail at their jobs.

Demanding Congress Does Its Job

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has expressed his concern with the budget. “It’s time we stop kicking the can down the road and get serious about solving our country’s spending-driven debt crisis,” he said. Senator Heller filed the No Budget, No Pay Act in this year’s Congress. Heller campaigned on the bill in 2012. The proposed law would require members of Congress to pass a budget (and all other supplemental appropriations bills) before the start of the fiscal year (October 1) in order to receive their salaries. If Congress doesn’t do its job, it doesn’t get paid.

This bill will create accountability for all the elected officials in Washington D.C. that have thousands of constituents relying on them to make responsible decisions on their behalf. It will assure  Congress pays its bills on time and address the never-ending extension of deadlines. But first, the bill must pass.

 

 

Four Cases for Saying NO: Commercial Gas Complex to Harm Locals in Wilmington, MA

Wilmington, Massachusetts is a charming small town just north of Boston. The town has retained its small-town feel despite the buildup of other larger Boston suburbs. All this might change very soon, if a company called the Global Montello Group gets its way.

In April, the Global Montello Group requested a permit to build a multi-phase gas and convenience complex in Wilmington.  Construction of the proposed Global Montello Group complex would bring heavy traffic from the Route 93 Expressway into the small town. Wilmington residents fear that their community may soon be a huge traffic through-way, causing headaches for the locals and eroding the town’s local flavor.

Global Montello Group Might…

  1. Ruin small businesses.

    The proposed gas complex lies on a corner which already has a local tavern and gas station.  Introducing a complex run by an out-of-town corporation threatens locally-owned businesses and drives money out of the town’s economy.  The corporation, not the town, would see the benefits of potential cash flow.  The town would only see its economy harmed.

  2.  Erode the small town.

    The buildup that inevitably results from commercializing on a large scale poses a threat to the pace of life locals prefer.  Locals who have lived in Wilmington their whole lives have expressed disdain for the to-date changes to the area, that used to be friendly for walking and farmland. Further commercialization slights the townspeople who elect their government officials, for the benefit of people the government has no reason to represent.

  3. Impose on locals’ lifestyles.

    The corner is home to a child care center and an assisted living home.  The increased highway traffic to result from the new complex would congest the area at rush hour.  This inconveniences local Wilmington residents who are trying to pick up a child or visit a loved one after work.  Locals who pass through the intersection to return home after work should not have to sit in the traffic of commuters who only benefit an out-of-town corporation.

  4. Threaten the community.

    Safety concerns from introducing mass traffic into the intersection are abundant.  Increased car flow on roads where school buses drop children off is dangerous.  Additionally, the threat of crime is higher with people unknown to the town coming and going at all hours.

Although a commercial gas complex could yield a higher tax payday for Wilmington’s government officials, it only hurts citizens.  Elected officials have the chance to save Wilmington from this outside corporation.

Trump Announces Plan to Renegotiate NAFTA

President Trump formally announced to Congress that he will renegotiated NAFTA as early as August 2017. There is a 90-day consultation period for the Trump administration, Congress and private businesses to determine what must absolutely be renegotiated.  After this, President Trump will renegotiate with Mexican and Canadian officials, at which time he will promote regulations more fair to American businesses.  Trump may require Mexico and Canada to raise their de minimis thresholds (DMTs), which, as they stand, stifle American small business exports.

American DMTs

Each country determines its own DMT When an export to that country is worth more than the DMT, the exporter must pay an additional tax on the shipment. For example, the current US DMT is 800 USD. This means that a Mexican company may pay no tax if it sends a shipment worth 799 USD across our southern border.

Do Americans enjoy the same privileges? N0. American exporters must pay taxes on everything above 20 CAD (in Canada) and 20 USD (in Mexico). Why should our businesses have to pay more taxes? President Trump has an opportunity to level the playing field.

Demanding Reciprocity

Currently, both Mexico and Canada agree to work on mutually beneficial trade deals. The DMT issue will test the seriousness of their commitment to making NAFTA work.

The Obama Administration actually worsened the problem by raising our DMT from 200 USD to 800 USD in 2015.

It is undeniable that President Trump must negotiate deals that protect small businesses in America. Raising the Canadian and Mexican DMT levels would help accomplish this. President Trump could use this opportunity to level the playing field and stop stifling American small business exporters.

United Airlines had a man forcibly dragged off a flight. Will the FAA do anything about it?

On the night of April 9th, 2017, a 69 year old man boarded United Flight 3411 from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville. He sat down in his seat, just like any other passenger. This man – a doctor – was traveling home to Louisville, where he would see patients the next day. 

United needed to transfer four employees to Louisville, but Flight 3411 was full. The airline staff asked if any passengers were willing to give up their spot. They offered each passenger a one-night stay in a hotel and an $800 voucher for their cooperation.

Nobody took them up on the offer. Did they sweeten the deal with extra money or airline credit? No way. They ordered four people, chosen at random, to get off the plane. (This sort of “involuntary bumping” is legal – before passengers board the plane. Once they’re inside the aircraft, the company has a legal responsibility to get them where they’re going.)

Three of those unlucky passengers agreed, and then left the plane. The fourth was the Louisville-bound doctor. He explained his need to get home to his patients. 

Did United ask for volunteers, this time offering more money? No. They called the police to remove the man. What happens next is absolutely horrifying – and captured by another passenger’s phone.   

A video that has gone viral on social media shows police forcibly removing the man from the airplane. The police wrestled him to the ground and dragged him by his arms and legs.  According the Reuters, the man was seen “being dragged down the aisle on his back by his hands, body limp, bleeding from the mouth, glasses askew and shirt pulled up above his navel.” During the dragging, the man’s face was slammed against the armrests and ended up badly bloodied. (Meanwhile, the official police report from the Chicago PD claims that the man “fell.”)

You can hear the man screaming and other passengers pleading with the security to stop. The video records the man saying “Just kill me… just kill me.”

Seconds later, the doctor goes limp and quiet, and is seemingly unconscious.

The Chicago Department of Aviation and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are currently investigating the incident. One security guard is on leave until the Chicago Department of Aviation handles the issue. So far, the Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t done anything. 

United Airlines has apologized for overbooking the flight. It has not, however, apologized for the behavior of its employees. In fact, CEO Oscar Munoz sent a letter to his employees stating “I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”

Melania and Barron Stay in NYC, Taxpayers Foot the Bill

Do you know how much you’re paying so that First Lady Melania Trump can live in New York City? Secret Service costs to protect her and son Barron run at an estimated $500,000 per day.

After President Trump won the election in 2016, she opted to stay in New York until June with Barron until he finishes his year at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School. Then, the two plan to move into the White House.

The price tag for this arrangement – a million dollars every two days – has raised eyebrows. It runs contrary to President Trump’s promises to cut wasteful federal spending.  However, Melania has made it clear that she is not following the path set by other First Ladies.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, her senior adviser, assured the American people that, “Mrs. Trump is honored to serve this country and is taking the role and responsibilities of first lady very seriously… The first lady is going to go about her role in a pragmatic and thoughtful way that is unique and authentic to her.”

What do Americans think?

Few American taxpayers want to take on the added cost of the duo’s security detail.

The NYPD estimates the added costs between $127,000 to $146,000 a day.  Taxpayers already floated a $24 million bill to protect the Trump family between Election Day and Inauguration Day.  

Some liberal media outlets, like the Washington Post, are livid at the situation: “Melania Trump is a virtual shut-in, her refuge 58 stories above Manhattan’s hoi polloi and laden with enough gold to embarrass a Saudi prince.” Other say she is prioritizing her role as a mother over her role as First Lady.

Do you think Melania is justified in spending our money to keep herself in New York City?

Trump Budget Boosts Military, Slashes EPA

“History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military dominance.”

 

Donald Trump stated this during the 2016 presidential campaign, when he was promising to grow the U.S. military. Now that we have seen President Trump’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year, we know he was serious about that commitment.

 

With a proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending, Trump’s budget puts an emphasis on military strength and homeland security. If enacted, the United States would be spending $596 billion on our military – more than any other country on Earth, and more than the next seven countries combined.

 

Trump’s budget proposal also calls for down payments on two of his other major campaign promises: the border wall and school voucher programs. All of Trump’s proposed spending comes with a trade-off – massive cuts in existing federal programs.

 

That’s why the Trump budget has supporters of big government feeling distraught; some of their favorite federal agencies are hardest hit.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take the hardest hit, as they will suffer a 31% decrease in funding. Coming in a close second is the State Department, which will endure a 29% funding cut compared to their 2017 budget. These are two examples of the 19 agencies that will face funding cuts if Trump’s budget is passed by Congress.

 

Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council Director, summarizes the agency cuts in a relatable fashion. “It’s no different than every other family in America that has to make the tough decisions when they need to spend money somewhere, they have to cut it from somewhere else.”

 

President Trump’s proposed budget is not expected to increase next year’s projected deficit of $487 billion. While the budget is not expected to lower the federal government’s debt either, it does show Trump’s commitment to stop the national debt from spiraling out of control.

 

Whereas past presidents have increased the federal deficit during their time in office, Trump’s first budget proposal shows he is on the path towards a smaller, more efficient federal government. As Democrats wonder how Big Government will afford these budget cuts, the rest of the country knows that we are nearly $20 trillion in debt. We can’t afford not to cut spending.

National Debt Nears $20 Trillion

Our national debt is about to cross the $20 trillion threshold, and it shows no signs of slowing down. That money amounts to roughly $59,510 in debt for every American citizen.

Simply paying the interest on the national debt – without even touching the debt itself – is a huge drain on our nation’s financial resources. Interest payments consumed 6% of the federal budget in 2015 and 7% of the federal budget in 2016. Every year, more taxpayer money will be eaten up by interest payments, leaving less funding available for things like the military, infrastructure, and education.

Those billions of dollars in interest may sound like a lot, but our interest payments are actually quite low…for now. The Federal Reserve has kept the interest rate low recently, and that has kept our interest payments depressed. However, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this year.

A 1% rise in the interest rate could add $1.6 trillion to the cost of our debt over the next ten years.

Virtually every household in America is limited by a budget. Congress, however, doesn’t stay within the parameters of federal revenue. In recent years, Congress has outspent what the government collects in taxes by over $500 billion.

This is akin to charging us a higher tax rate in the future, to be paid by our children and grandchildren, all because of politicians who are racking up massive debts. Kids today are growing up in a world where they will inherit massive debt incurred before they were born, plus interest, all because Congress refuses to live within its means.

America’s founding fathers were aware of the dangers posed by incurring large debts. George Washington issued a stern caution, “No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.”

Pres. Trump and Speaker Ryan Want to Give You a Tax Break

With the GOP having control over the presidency and both chambers of Congress, Republican legislators have an opportunity to pass historic legislation that will shape the country for years to come.

Republicans have several legislative goals on their plate for 2017: repealing Obamacare, confirming the next Supreme Court Justice, and reforming the overly-complex tax code. An overhaul of the tax code has not occurred in 30 years, mainly because both political parties cannot come to agreement on how to reform the system. House Republicans and President Trump have released proposals for tax reform, but will they actually be able to get a bill passed?

The outline from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposes lower tax rates for every income bracket, with a specific decrease in tax rate from 39.6% to 33% for individuals in the top income bracket. Ryan’s plan will cover the loss in revenue by reducing exemptions and deductions, and with the addition of a controversial border adjustment tax.

President Trump’s plan is similar to Speaker Ryan’s, with an added emphasis on removing income taxes for low-income families. In an effort to obtain bipartisan support from Democrats, Trump has even suggested taxing carried interests from investment fund managers as income instead of capital gains. This idea was championed by former President Obama, and could be the crucial outreach Trump needs to gain support from the opposition party.

Above all else, President Trump is focused on job creation. Trump believes the U.S. corporate income tax rate of 35%, which is the third-highest corporate income tax in the world, has saddled American businesses for far too long. If his proposed reduction to 15% is passed, he will engrain comprehensive tax reform into his presidential legacy forever.

NAFTA Moves the All-American Cookie to Mexico

Nabisco, Inc. has been making Oreos in Chicago, Illinois for over 60 years. After President Bill Clinton enacted NAFTA in 1994, American companies began exploiting poor labor laws in foreign countries, sending their manufacturing jobs overseas and employing workers at a cheaper rate. Nabisco was no exception.

In July of 2016, Nabisco started closing their production factories in Illinois, and announced the construction of a new facility in Mexico. Nearly 300 Nabisco employees were laid off as a result of the move. The company claims moving to Mexico would save them $46 million per year. What Nabisco could not save was the livelihood of 300 hard-working employees who depended on those manufacturing jobs.

For many Americans, this is just another example of the devastating effects NAFTA has had on middle-class workers in the manufacturing industry.

There is hope on the horizon, as President Donald J. Trump now resides in the White House, and has promised to be “the greatest jobs president that God has ever created.” According to Trump, renegotiating NAFTA will be one of his top priorities.

Ending unfair trade barriers is one issue Trump must consider when renegotiating NAFTA. The “de minimis” threshold (DMT) is one example of the trade restrictions NAFTA imposes on American businesses.

The “de minimis” threshold is the value amount a shipment must exceed before it faces additional taxes. Mexico has exploited the DMT provision of NAFTA to allow Mexican businesses to export shipments to the U.S. at a reduced cost, while American businesses pay more taxes when shipping supplies to Mexico.

Top