#GOPTaxScam Targets Disabled Veterans

The Republican Tax Scam will have serious, even devastating, consequences for the nearly 20% of Americans who have disabilities-- greater tax burdens and decreased opportunities.

As Robyn Powell explained last week to Rewire readers,

"People with disabilities already have massive expenses and far less income, on average, than their non-disabled counterparts. Many of their medical necessities-- such as long-term care and certain wheelchairs-- are not covered by some insurance plans, including Medicare, and can cost an individual tens of thousands of dollars. These services are not just about one’s health; having access to a power wheelchair or in-home care can be the difference between living in an institution or a private residence. Right now, taxpayers may deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses if they exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. Notably, 8.8 million people-- primarily people with disabilities and seniors, as well as their caregivers-- benefited from this important deduction last year." But to make life a tad more bearable for overburdened private jet owners, Trump's and Ryan's Tax Scam eliminates the out-of-pocket medical expenses deduction.

Los Angeles area Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA), a veteran and an Air Force colonel is the West Coast regional Vice Chair for the DCCC. He told us that "The GOP tax scam will be a disaster for our veterans and our country. It is particularly disgusting that Republicans have proposed repealing tax credits to hire disabled veterans while at the same time giving billionaires and corporations a huge tax cut. Tax policy is ultimately a statement of priorities-- and Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are showing us what their priorities are, and it isn't our veterans." 

And Lieu is exactly right: the Tax Scam falls especially hard on disabled veterans. Blue America talked to some of the progressive veterans running for Congress, in light of the passage of the Tax Scam in both Houses. 

I wonder if all those self professed Christians in the Republican Party ever think of Jesus' admonition: “That what you do to the least of these, so do you do to me." This morning, Randy Bryce texted us that he had been going over parts of the GOP Tax Scam and one of the parts that infuriated him was how it penalizes veterans wounded in the line of duty. "After serving in the Army I returned home to Southeast Wisconsin," he told us. I saw fellow veterans without homes and I worked hand in hand-- through my union and with the Democratic Party and state government to bring needed assistance their way. That is the best of America and is the America I was proud to protect and serve. Targeting disabled veterans who served their country is especially cruel and unAmerican. Seeing this tax scam try and rip needed services away from my brothers and sisters who served sickens me. We didn't serve to protect a billionaires ability to fly a Learjet on the cheap. We served to protect the best of our American values. These frauds are shameful, and we will repeal and replace their leader in the house, Paul Ryan-- a man who appears to truly enjoy hurting those in need in order to see his billionaire buddies smile."

Doug Applegate, the progressive former Marine colonel running for a a San Diego/Orange County seat held by Darrell Issa: "Once again Veterans get the short end of the stick. The problem lies with the decline of Vets sitting in Congress and voting Veterans’ interests. Don’t just “thank a Vet for their service”; that doesn’t come close to paying the bill. We need to thank Veterans with our votes!"

As Pennsylvania's Tom Prigg put it: "We fought for our country. Some returned home wounded. All we want is the ability to live a good, normal, productive life. To take care of our families. But now Keith Rothfus and the Republican’s new  tax bill will eliminate the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Credit  tax credits for businesses who hire disabled people like our vets. This heartless bill not only takes away our wounded warrior’s ability to work and take care of their families, it also takes away their dignity by undermining their livelihood. Keith Rothfus, a congressman who never misses an opportunity for a veteran photo-op, supports this bill that will hurt tens-of-thousands of American Veterans and their families."

Tom's concerns were echoed by all the veteran candidates we talked with. James Thompson is running for the Wichita, Kansas seat, held by Ryan rubberstamp Ron Estes. "Ron Estes is a hypocrite," he told us. "He gives lip service to supporting veterans by showing up to some high profile events to get free media coverage. Yet when the rubber meets the road, and he is given a real opportunity to help veterans, especially disabled veterans, he didn't have their six. He voted in favor of the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which will give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest of Americans, like the KOCH brothers here in my district. This is not tax reform, it is tax robbery paid for by robbing disabled veterans to pay the privileged princes of Wall Street. Ron Estes and his ilk, at the direction of these modern day robber barons, removed the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Simply put, the Work Opportunity Credit incentivizes companies to hire disabled veterans, while the Disabled Access Credit allows them to actually hire disabled vets by making it possible for those same companies to afford special accommodations like ramps. Ending these two credits, harms veterans. PERIOD. Veterans need representatives to watch their six, not use it as an opportunity to stab them in the back. I promise every veteran out there, regardless of party, I will have your six, and will lead the way in making sure our countries heroes are taken care of when they go to war and when they return from it. I hope everyone will call and encourage their Senators and Representatives to vote FOR VETERANS by voting no on the #GOPTaxScam."

Jared Golden is the Maine House whip. He told us that: "Bruce Poliquin and his corporate allies in Washington are intent on funding their tax cuts on the backs of our children and disabled veterans. By adding over $1 trillion to the debt, future generations will be on the hook for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Where the tax plan does make up costs are on the backs of the disabled including our wounded fighting men and women. These tax credits are designed to create an incentive for businesses to hire disabled veterans and others with disabilities, I find it morally reprehensible that these laudable and effective tax credits are where Rep. Poliquin and the Republicans in Congress want to find 'savings' so that millionaires and billionaires can buy an extra yacht, or a corporation can move more jobs overseas." 

Please consider helping these military vets with their congressional campaigns by contributing what you can at this link.

14 California Republicans Just Handed Their Own Constituents A Big Tax Increase

IssaTrumpLoveScrewingNormalPeople.pngDarrell Issa may regret being Drumpf's BFF when November 2018 rolls around. Just sayin'.

Paul Ryan got a budget bill passed Thursday night, albeit very narrowly-- 216 to 212. Every single Democrat and 20 Republicans voted against it. And if just 3 more Republicans had voted NO it would have failed. Why should they have?

Well, passage allows for a quickie vote on Ryan's tax cuts for the rich-- which includes big tax increases for many middle class families. The worst hit will be middle class families in California, New York, New Jersey and other states with high state and local taxes. In some cases taxes will increase by $25,000 annually. That part of the Trump-Ryan tax bill is referred to as eliminating the state and local tax deduction. Lots of Republican congress members voted "no" in order to protect their constituents from these outrageous tax increases. BUT NOT ONE California Republican did.

There are 14 Republicans from California in Congress and none of them elected to join their Republican colleagues from New York and New Jersey who staged an attempt to force Ryan to keep the middle class deduction... NOT ONE.

Eric Bauman, Chairman of the California Democratic Party had this to say after the vote:

"In voting for the Donald Trump/Paul Ryan budget bill, every member of the CAGOP 14 voted to raise taxes on middle class and poor workers in Orange County, the Central Valley and all across California... just so they could give a huge tax cut to their billionaire paymasters and to appease Donald Trump. All 14 of them voted to take healthcare away from cancer patients and raise taxes on the rest of us, which they will turn around and hand to their ultra-rich patrons.

Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher, Jeff Denham, David Valadao and the rest of their cronies are not just failing to do their jobs-- they're actively sticking it to millions of their own constituents, and hurting real people in the process. The people of California will not fall for this deceptive tax hike and the California Democratic Party intends to make sure every voter remembers this in 2018.”

All of the Orange County Republicans-- Darrell Issa, Ed Royce, Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher-- are hanging on by a thread, so the collective decision to increase their constituents' annual tax bill is probably a very bad idea.

In fact, even long-shot red districts like CA-50 (Duncan Hunter) and CA-22 (Devin Nunes) look like they could be offering unexpected opportunities: the former because of an unexpected but likely indictment and the latter because of Putin-Gate.

Kia Hamadanchy, one of the progressives running against absentee-congresswoman Mimi Walters:

"It’s remarkable to me how out of touch Mimi Walters remains with the residents of our district. I am out everyday at events, community meetings, and rallies and the support for Trump is abysmal-- and I’m hearing that from Republicans and Independents, too. Yet just this week, Mimi told a reporter that, 'It is very important that Republicans back the President… He stands for what we stand for.' As far as I’m concerned, that means she stands with white supremacists and xenophobes and not the incredibly diverse and vibrant people of the district she is supposed to represent in Washington. If Mimi continues to be Trump’s rubber stamp, I don’t see any way she gets re-elected. She better start looking for her lobbying gig already."

When it comes to kitchen table issues, there is no one in Congress fighting more ardently for working families than Ro Khanna (D-CA). He's very interested in making sure Congress becomes bluer and more progressive. He told us after the vote that

"California Republicans are being forced to cast votes again and against against their constituents. They are having to choose between the people they represent and the Trump/Ryan agenda. As long as we run bold progressives who are rooted in the community and offer a positive vision, we should win many seats in California!

Nor is that tax deduction conundrum the only one of Trump's legislative proposals making reelection for the California GOP delegation look more and more like a long-shot. The Republican ultimate bête noire, ObamaCare, is not a bête noire for millions of California voters-- including in GOP-held districts-- who need it for their families. Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would lead millions of Californians to lose health coverage and premiums would skyrocket, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Low-income people that depend on Medi-Cal for their health care, many of whom live in the Central Valley, would be disproportionately affected. Three Republicans represent Central Valley districts that would suffer disproportionately: Denham, Valadao and Nunes.

And there are more issues that find California Republicans on the wrong side of the fence-- from immigration to deadly military equipment being sold for private use. Trump’s polarizing effect on California’s electorate underscores the balancing act for Republicans headed into 2018.

Opportunities like this do not happen every cycle, or even every 4 cycles. We cannot let them get away. Will you contribute what you can today to the candidates on our page for making California more Progressively Blue?

Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,

--Howie, for the entire Blue America team

Why Are Republicans Blocking Middle Class Tax Cuts? by Howie Klein

Last week when we had Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) over to Crooks and Liars for a live chat, we published the text of the letter on tax cuts that he, Alan Grayson and Mary Jo Kilroy had sent to Speaker Pelosi. A few days later Digby, Amato and I met with Raúl in person to discuss the letter and several other topics Digby covered yesterday. He told us that he, Grayson and Kilroy have been working hard to find co-signers and this morning Mary Jo's campaign sent me the list of Congressmembers who immediately signed on (as well as the nice photo of the congresswoman subtly hinting how much better off Ohio voters would be if they traded in golfer John Boehner for someone who cares about ordinary middle class families):

Mike Capuano (D-MA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Mike Honda (D-CA)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Kendrick Meek (D-FL)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Tim Ryan (D-OH)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Betty Sutton (D-OH)
Peter Welch (D-VT)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
David Wu (D-OR)

[UPDATE: Members who signed on in the last several hours: Robert Brady (D-PA), Andre Carson (D-IN), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Filner (D-CA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Phil Hare (D-IL), and Jim McDermott (D-WA)]

It's worth republishing the letter:

Last decade, President Bush rammed through Congress a multi-billion dollar give-away for the wealthiest Americans on the backs of our nation's middle-class. In the process, the aforementioned Bush tax cuts eviscerated an unprecedented budget surplus and weakened our nation's fiscal health. As the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, we respectfully urge you to bring to the floor, before Congress adjourns in October, a vote on President Obama's recently proposed tax plan: permanent tax cuts for the middle-class while allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, using any additional revenue to close our budget deficit.

We must show the American people that our Democratic Majority stands for them-- people who have worked hard, played by the rules and depend on these tax breaks to make ends meet. We also need to get serious about cutting our budget deficit by allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire.

Some have argued that the Bush tax cuts help to stimulate the economy, or that allowing these cuts to expire would hurt our nation's small businesses. This is flat out wrong. According to a recent report by the Center for American Progress, the economy boasted 132 million jobs in June 2001, the month that the first of the Bush tax cuts was signed into law. By June 2004, there were just 131.4 million jobs-- a decrease of 600,000 jobs. Furthermore, a recent report from the Tax Policy Center states that, "Roughly 97 percent of small businesses would not be affected at all by increases in the top two tax rates."

Rather, extending the Bush tax cuts will result in an $830 billion give-away for the nation's wealthiest Americans, significantly increasing government debt, the interest on which will be paid by our nation's middle-class for years to come. This astronomical sum could instead be used to close our budget deficit.

It is critical that we pass the Obama middle-class tax cuts-- not providing an even greater lift for the wealthiest Americans who don't need it.

Leading the opposition in the House to middle class tax cuts-- with the proviso that they'll support them if and only if the wealthiest 3% of American families get gargantuan, unaffordable tax breaks that will further harm the economy and balloon the deficit-- are Wall Street shills John Boehner and the Young Guns. I spoke to Justin Coussoule this morning about the tax cuts for the middle class and asked him if he were representing southwest Ohio in Congress instead of Boehner if he would have signed onto the letter. He said he would have co-written it.

Alan Grayson was the first Member of Congress to endorse my campaign. Last week Mary Jo Kilroy became the first Member of the Ohio delegation to do so. In between Raúl Grijalva wrote a letter talking about John Boehner's failure to represent ordinary working families in Ohio and how he is endorsing me because that's exactly what I'm pledging to do. Between Boehner's steadfast agenda of giveaways to the wealthy, bailouts to failed Wall Street banks, trade policies that ship Ohio manufacturing jobs to low wage nations like China, coupled with an hysterical refusal to assist average families in a jam because of the very policies he's pushing, there is a clear difference for voters to see in this district.

Goal ThermometerDemocrats talk about an enthusiasm gap. There is no enthusiasm gap in Ohio's 8th district. Democrats and independent voters-- and more Republicans than anyone suspects-- are seriously considering making a change. The letter that Mary Jo Kilroy penned for Speaker Pelosi is a letter I would have been proud to work with her on. I will never support irresponsible, budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy few and I will always be looking for ways to decrease the burden on ordinary Ohio families and on the small businesses that are the engine of a healthy economy. John Boehner, who still refuses to participate in any debates in the 8th district, is holding tax cuts for 97% of families hostage to the Republican Party's mania to give away more and more to the richest families whose share of the wealth has increased exponentially since he was elected two decades ago. It's time for small business and middle class families to get a break and that's exactly what I intend to devote myself to if the voters in this district decide to replace John Boehner with me in November.

Do the Republicans have any solutions worth considering. Well... polling shows Sarah Palin is the most popular political figure among GOP voters. It makes her powerful inside the party. And in November she has her own slate of candidates running for both House and Senate seats. Here's a short video that highlights a few of them and explains their solution to unemployment, the economic collapse and tax fairness. Give it a look-see and then consider going here:

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