Thursday, March 21, 2013
The Real Story - Tax Bill Shows Need for Legislative Reform by Heath Haussamen
By Heath Haussamen,
New Mexico In Depth
As House Speaker Ken Martinez put an end to the 2013 regular legislative session on Saturday, a number of journalists and others took to Twitter to express their shock at what had just happened.
Members of the N.M. House of Representatives approved a number of tax reforms that had each provoked long debates in the past. They lumped the proposals into one, complex bill that essentially shifts tax burden from corporations to cities and counties, which forces the local governments to decide in the coming years whether to make budget cuts or raise your taxes.
The House and Senate both approved the legislation in the final hour of the session, without many lawmakers taking time to understand how their votes might affect their constituents and what cities and counties will do to plug budget holes. Many didn’t have details on how the changes would impact the state’s budget or data to support the bet that cutting corporate taxes will bring significant numbers of new jobs to the state.
In the House, Martinez allowed the bill to bypass the scrutiny of the committee process despite his past statements about the importance of that process. On the floor, the majority of lawmakers chose to vote without any debate. As the session concluded around noon on Saturday, the House gave final legislative approval to a major rewrite of the tax code most had seen for the first time only minutes earlier.
“That’s insane,” one woman, her voice captured on an archived video recording of the final moments from the House, muttered as she watched the tax bill win approval.
The Senate had approved the bill minutes before the House. At a post-session news conference, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who participated in secret negotiations on the legislation, promised to sign the legislation and called it “an important victory.”
Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, told me having little information about the impact of the bill is why he joined 25 other House and Senate members in voting against it. He called the last-minute push for a secretly negotiated bill an “ambush” that showed a lack of leadership.
“If you have a good policy, it should withstand debate and scrutiny,” Cervantes said. “If you have an uncertain and unclear position, then you pass it without an opportunity for scrutiny.”
How it happened
Most legislators didn’t know leaders were negotiating the tax bill as the 60-day session wound down last week. The governor, Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith and a handful of others kept discussions secret.
A version of the tax proposal became public Friday night when Smith’s committee approved Senate Bill 538. That legislation went nowhere following the committee vote.
But the proposal gained new life in the final hour of the session, around 11 a.m. Saturday, when proponents stuffed it into House Bill 641 on the Senate floor. Senators voted 34-8 to approve the proposal, with only Democrats dissenting.
There was little debate. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, called the legislation “complex” but urged approval. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, decried the lack of information and voted against it.
The House took up the proposal with less than 20 minutes until the constitutionally mandated noon end of the session. Before House members had a copy of the bill, Minority Whip Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, proposed voting without allowing debate. Speaker Martinez, D-Grants, delayed Gentry’s motion long enough for members to get the bill and be told by a cabinet secretary that it would have a positive impact on the state’s budget each of the next five years.
Then more than two thirds of House members who were present agreed to skip debate and go straight to a final vote.
House members didn’t have time to read the bill carefully, if at all. Many said they got no written report on the impact of the legislation, while others received a copy of a report on the earlier version of the proposal, which was outdated, just before they voted.
Though Finance Secretary Tom Clifford promised a positive impact on the state budget for five years, he provided no details and said nothing about the impact on local governments or your wallet. A legislative analysis released Wednesday – four days after lawmakers voted to approve the bill – estimated a positive impact on the state budget for the first two years but a negative impact for the following two years.
Before the House voted to skip debate and then approve the bill, Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, tried to debate, but Speaker Martinez cut him off. Instead, there were periods of silence as the speaker waited for a legislative staffer and Clifford to provide information.
“They were stalling so there wouldn’t be time for debate,” Rep. Stephen Easley, D-Santa Fe, was quoted by The Santa Fe New Mexican as saying. “That was pretty unfortunate in terms of process and procedure.”
“I’m all for sensible tax reform and balanced tax reform, but it needs to be done with debate and forethought and very sound financial data,” Steinborn told me Tuesday. “That’s why I was standing up to debate, and why I took exception with this.”
In the final seconds of the session, House members voted 46-18 to approve the bill, with Steinborn and Easley among the handful of Democrats and Republicans in opposition.
House Majority Whip Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who had earlier said he didn’t know whether to approve the “complex” and “major” proposal, voted for it. After the session ended, he told KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, “It’s a great day for New Mexico because it’s jobs, it’s economic development. We came together. We listened to one another.”
Listened? During debate that never happened?
A duty to be deliberative and transparent
Many components of the legislation had been discussed individually before. But lumping them together created massive tax reform whose impact hadn’t been scrutinized. In addition, the House has 18 new members this year, including Easley – that’s about a fourth of the chamber’s 70 members – who might not have been familiar with the individual proposals.
Those who negotiated this proposal and shoved it down lawmakers’ throats – and legislators who went along with that effort – tossed principles of good government, like scrutiny and transparency, out the window. Why?
Smith was quoted by The New Mexican as saying he didn’t know any other way to pass such legislation “when we’re running out of time.” Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho, who voted against the bill, told me he didn’t have time to look over the bill before voting but “didn’t really mind the process.”
“I know it happens sometimes,” said Lewis, who said he supports the legislation now that he’s had time to look it over.
Time is an issue. Lawmakers aren’t paid, and many have other careers. The prospect of returning to Santa Fe for a special session can be daunting. In this case, the governor threatened to veto the budget and call another session, but Smith and others believed she might sign the budget if she also got a significant tax-reform bill.
Hence a deal that Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, who voted against the bill, called a “royal screw job.” Many lawmakers who voted for the tax bill were apparently influenced by a desire to avoid another session.
That’s outrageous. Lawmakers have a duty to be deliberative and transparent, to take the time to gather information, analysis and opinions needed to make reasonable decisions. If that means another session, so be it.
Cervantes said New Mexico’s legislative process is designed to avoid debate and scrutiny. He has pushed for years, unsuccessfully, for the creation of a commission tasked with proposing constitutional reforms, including changes to the legislative process.
If the current system hinders lawmakers’ ability to do their jobs, then it’s time for structural reform.Haussamen, New Mexico In Depth’s deputy director, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @haussamen. Find NMID at nmindepth.com.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
11/28: New Mexico Will Benefit from Increased Wind Power
Wind tax credits set to expire: Congress must reinvest in New Mexicans' green future.
From Environment New Mexico.org - Environment New Mexico is a statewide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.
What: In the wake of this summer’s severe drought, and as the fiscal cliff and the expiration of key tax credits for wind power are quickly approaching, public health professionals and PRC Commissioners will join Environment New Mexico to release a new report that quantifies the public health and environmental benefits of wind power for New Mexico, including global warming pollution avoided and water saved. The report also estimates these benefits through 2016 if wind development continues at a pace comparable to that in recent years.
Who: Jason Marks, Public Regulation Commission (PRC) District 1 Commissioner Dr. Dona Upson, Pulmonologist Rikki Seguin, Environment New Mexico
When: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 10am
Where: Alvarado Urban Farm: Gardens on the North side of Silver Gardens Apartments 100 Silver Ave. SW Albuquerque, NM 87102
From I-25: Take exit 224A for Lead Ave toward Coal Ave. Turn right on Lead Ave, then right on 2 nd St, and the first right on Silver Ave. Street Parking available, as well as Silver Gardens Parking Garage on Lead Ave and 1 st St. SW.
Excellent Visuals of Wind Turbines and Plants Affected by Drought
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Small Business Owners on Bush Tax Cuts, Fiscal Cliff: “It's Time to Listen to Main St., Not Wall St.
The following article is from the Main Street Alliance. The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state and locally based small business groups that creates opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies.
As Congress reconvened Tuesday for its lame duck session, small business leaders from the Main Street Alliance network sent a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and other congressional leaders outlining a small business agenda for the fiscal showdown coming in the lame duck session of the 112th Congress. Main Street business owners called for an end to the top-bracket Bush tax cuts, urged Congress to protect middle class programs that strengthen the small business customer base, and pushed for additional revenue options.
This small business agenda presents a sharp counterpoint to the positions staked out by corporate executives and Wall Street CEOs, including the “Fix the Debt” CEO council and the Tax Relief Coalition, ahead of the lame duck session of Congress scheduled to start next week.
The small business letter reads, in part:
If we’ve learned anything from the economic forecasts about the so-called “fiscal cliff,” it is that austerity policies won’t work any better in America than they have in Europe. Austerity-driven budget cuts won’t create an economic miracle, they’ll force our economy back into recession and kick off a downward spiral.
While Wall Street CEOs who have bet their futures on overseas markets may be content with a program of deep domestic cuts, for small businesses that rely on a local customer base here at home this fact holds true: we can’t cut our way to prosperity. We need to grow our way to prosperity. Growth requires investment and investment requires resources. This is why Congress must put meaningful new revenue options on the table in the lame duck session.
As a country, we’ve tried listening to Wall Street. That strategy hasn’t worked for most Americans and it hasn’t worked for small businesses. While the banks got bailouts and Wall Street rebounded to post new record profits, small businesses took it on the chin. It’s time for a change. It’s time to listen to Main Street.
The full letter is available here.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Tax Policy in New Mexico
Guest blog provided by Alicia Manzano. Alicia is the Outreach Director at New Mexico Voices for Children and also leads the New Mexico Fairness Project.
In her June 29 column, “Apples and Activism,” Sherry Robinson dismissed a proposal to close a New Mexico tax loophole that only benefits profitable out-of-state corporations. One of the main problems with her column is that she demonstrates a basic lack of understanding regarding what the proposal—called mandatory combined reporting (MCR)—actually does and does not do. It does not allow New Mexico to tax the profits a company makes in another state. That would be illegal—and the legality of MCR, which has been adopted by most other western states, has been upheld by the Supreme Court. That said, it’s hard to give much credence to the rest of her assertions—particularly her argument that our state’s corporate tax rate is too high. An Ernst and Young study released earlier this year showed that New Mexico’s effective tax rate was among the lowest in nine of our western state neighbors.
In addition, Winthrop Quigley, a business writer for the Albuquerque Journal, recently pointed out that when studies take into account the effect of New Mexico’s wide range of tax incentives, our state’s effective tax rate shrinks by more than 62 percent. The devastating impacts of so many unfair and ineffective loopholes also mean cuts to essential programs and services like education.
When it comes to comparing our state budget to other states, we found especially troubling a report on MSNBC a few weeks ago that listed New Mexico as #1 in the country for “states cutting the most to schools and cities.” Beggaring our schools and infrastructure undermines the foundation for future job growth.
These realities are re-igniting a conversation among New Mexicans about our state’s budget priorities. It has become increasingly hard for defenders of trickle-down economics to justify loopholes and tax breaks that only benefit the wealthiest and big, profitable corporations. That goes for the 2003 state income tax cuts that gave a huge tax cut to New Mexicans in the top income bracket, while providing New Mexicans in the bottom 40 percent with no tax reduction.
The old trickle-down dogma has repeatedly failed. The legacy of both the Bush and New Mexico’s failed tax cut polices for the top 1 percent are plain to see. A sagging economy coupled with the increased transfer of wealth to the richest New Mexicans leaves the rest of us to ponder the value of those tax breaks as vital services are cut and teachers, police officers, and firefighters are laid off.
How much bigger can New Mexico’s class sizes get as teachers are let go? How much longer can we stretch public safety response times due to under-funding for police and firefighters? How much more disinvestment can Main Street New Mexico handle before their small businesses close up shop? How many more hungry children will be turned away from underfunded summer lunch programs? How many more thousands of our toddlers will end up on a child care waiting list?
The executive’s refusal to close this tax loophole, along with the veto of important transparency measures, only harms our ability to make smart decisions regarding our state budget. New Mexicans deserve transparency and hard data about the job creation effectiveness of tax breaks, like those enjoyed by out-of-state corporations.
In tough times like these, New Mexico’s wealthiest 1 percent should be contributing their fair share. New Mexicans also deserve to know how out-of-state corporations have gamed New Mexico’s tax system while not being held accountable for promised job creation that never happened.
At the end of the day, New Mexico needs a tax system that exemplifies the values of fairness, transparency, and accountability.
Friday, August 03, 2012
SHAMEFUL News from the GOP led US House of Representatives
The following is an interesting conglomerate of articles written about the tax bill being voted on recently in the House of Represenatives. This was prepared by the Americans for Tax Fairness.
Following the House vote yesterday to approve the GOP bill to extend all the Bush tax cuts, including those for households with incomes above $250,000, the richest 2 percent of Americans, one week after the Senate did the opposite, there were some great highlights in our daily clips that I wanted to share with you below.
The one Republican who voted no to extending Bush tax cuts: Marketwatch, 8/1/2012
Rep. Timothy Johnson [was] the only Republican to vote against a bill in the House extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone by one year…. The Illinois representative has already broken ranks with many in his party when, in March, he said he was no longer bound to follow a pledge to the Americans for Tax Reform group not to raise taxes, according to the publication Roll Call. “I would never in a million years have considered this as some kind of a locked-in-granite pledge. Frankly, I didn’t even remember it. That shows you how obscure it was to me,” Johnson said to Roll Call.
Capitol Hill Whodunit as Congress Feuds Over Bush Tax Cuts: Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy, 8/1/2012 The Capitol Hill whodunit unfolded as the Republican-controlled House agreed 256 to 171 to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers for one more year…. The Senate rejected the same bill last week but passed its own version of the House Democrats’ bill, extending the Bush tax cuts for those with income up to $250,000. “The two approaches demonstrate a glaring difference in priorities,” [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid said. “But there’s another difference between the two plans: Democrats’ proposal is the only one with a chance of actually becoming law. President Obama has said he would sign it tomorrow.” By contrast, the White House said Tuesday night that the president would veto the Republicans’ tax-cuts-for-all bill…. A New York Times/CBS poll of three swing states out Wednesday found 58 to 62 percent of those surveyed supporting Obama’s plan to boost taxes on those earning more than $250,000.
House Votes to Extend Tax Cuts, Accomplishes Nothing: Forbes, Kelly Phillips Erb, 8/1/2012. What’s really going to happen is that – at least until November – the Democrats are going to oppose any plan that holds rates steady for the top 2% of taxpayers (those making $250,000 or more) and the Republicans will oppose any plan that doesn’t extend the cuts for all taxpayers…. Democrats are taking a gamble that most Americans will continue to support their version of the plan (the one that passed the Senate). Most polls indicate that there is not wide support for extending the cuts to all taxpayers. So, I’m asking you: do you support extending the cuts to all taxpayers, all but the top 2% of American taxpayers or not at all?
Faith leaders oppose GOP tax plan: The Associated Baptist News, Bob Allen, 8/1/2012 More than 60 Christian leaders and theologians – including several Baptists – signed an open letter Aug. 1 criticizing a proposal backed by House Republicans to extend Bush-era tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, while allowing enhancements to middle-class tax credits added in 2009 by President Obama to expire. The letter, coordinated by Faith in Public Life, came as the GOP-controlled House prepared to vote on a competing plan to a Senate bill that would renew tax cuts due to expire Dec. 31 on all but the wealthiest taxpayers. The House plan keeps those cuts in place but reduces benefits for the middle and lower classes. The faith leaders said how Congress votes on the tax measures “will have a profound impact on working families and the poor.” They specifically opposed any plan that fails to extend improvements in the Child Tax Credit, which reduces the federal income tax on families by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child under 17, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families.
“These tax credits help families meet basic needs, reduce poverty, and remove barriers to work,” the letter said. “It is hypocritical for lawmakers who talk about family values to abandon improvements in these effective, family supporting programs.”
The faith leaders said reducing those credits would jeopardize the economic security of more than 15 million families and 36 million children. “This is simply unconscionable,” they wrote…. “Favoring the wealthiest 2 percent over working families is irresponsible public policy that fails a basic moral test,” the leaders said….
“Ultimately, these choices reflect our values and reveal our priorities as a nation,” they said. “We urge members of Congress to put families and workers before ideological agendas that favor the powerful.” ….
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and a member of First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., called the Republican budget “an immoral document” because of how its priorities and principles apply differently to the rich and poor.
“I certainly don’t believe that all our Republican lawmakers came to Washington to hurt poor people, but it’s time for some of them to challenge the dominant forces in their party and face the consequences of such indefensible choices,” Wallis said in a press release.
Bush Tax-Cut Votes All About November National Journal, Nancy Cook, 8/2/2012
Mitt Romney….will paint the Democrats as politicians willing to raise taxes on small-business owners. Never mind that a new analysis from the Tax Policy Center estimates that Romney’s tax plan, well informed by the House Republicans, would disproportionately raise taxes on middle- and lower-income people who rely on tax credits and deductions: the same benefits Romney has vaguely promised to clear from the code in favor of lowering marginal rates.
Obama Says Romney’s Tax Plan Favors Wealthy Only New York Times, Jackie Calmes, 8/1/2012
Mr. Obama cited a new study from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, two centrist Washington-based policy research organizations. The analysis concluded that the sort of tax code that Mr. Romney has proposed “would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”
…if Mr. Romney reduced or eliminated other tax breaks to offset the revenue loss of his tax cuts — as he has promised, without specifics — the changes would shift $86 billion of the tax burden away from the high-income taxpayers and onto everyone else. Americans would lose some or all of existing tax breaks for mortgages, college tuition and health insurance….
The Tax Policy Center is widely respected in both parties, and its director was an economic adviser to President George W. Bush.
Mitt Romney's Tax Plan The Atlantic, Clive Crook, 8/1/2012
William Gale and colleagues look at a tax plan with Romney characteristics--they can't score the actual plan precisely, because it's too vague--and are decidedly unimpressed. Our major conclusion is that a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed - including reducing marginal tax rates substantially, eliminating the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment - would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers. This is true even when we bias our assumptions about which and whose tax expenditures are reduced to make the resulting tax system as progressive as possible….
Paula Dwyer writes a nice column on the findings. I agree with her conclusion. Romney's plan looks "both politically infeasible and mathematically pie-in-the-sky".
Obama Emphasizes Deficit Credentials, Broadens Fight Over Bush Tax Cuts Huffington Post, Jon Ward, 8/1/2012
"To cut the deficit, we need everyone to pay their fair share." That's how President Barack Obama ended a 30-second commercial his reelection campaign released on Tuesday…. A two-front battle is Obama maintaining the fairness argument while trying to undercut Romney's advantage among voters for whom fiscal responsibility is a top priority. And that's a lot of voters.
The deficit ranks behind only the economy/jobs and health care in recent polls when voters are asked what issues are most important to them. Obama has been arguing for some time that Romney's tax plan will add $5 trillion to the deficit. But he got some ammunition Wednesday from the Tax Policy Center, when Urban Institute-Brookings Institution joint venture issued a report saying that Romney's plan to cut rates for all tax brackets, lower the corporate rate, and keep taxes on investments low, without adding to the deficit, would require taxes to go up for middle- and low-income earners….
Romney is either going to screw the working-class or that he'll be a fiscal profligate….
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Heather Wilson “Proud” Of Votes To Protect Special Tax Breaks for Companies Shipping Jobs Overseas
From Martin Heinrich for Senate Campaign.
In a recent news article in The New Mexican, a spokesperson for Heather Wilson said the former Congresswoman was “proud” of votes she took to protect special tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
“Heather Wilson's blatant support for giving special tax breaks to companies that ship American jobs overseas shows just how wrong her priorities are for New Mexico,” said Whitney Potter, spokeswoman for Democratic Senate candidate Martin Heinrich. “We need leaders who are going to fight for the future of the middle class and put New Mexicans back to work, not politicians that put tax breaks for the rich ahead of strengthening Medicare and Social Security.”
Echoing the chorus of the Republican Party, Wilson also signed lobbyist Grover Norquist’s tax pledge promising to never require big corporations to pay their fair share, even by closing loopholes that reward them for shipping American jobs overseas.
Wilson “Proud” of Votes to Protect Special Tax Breaks. In a recent news article in The New Mexican, a spokesperson for Heather Wilson said the former Congresswoman was “proud” of votes she took to protect special tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. [Santa Fe New Mexican, 8/1/12]
Wilson Has Voted At Least Four Times To Protect Special Tax Breaks For Companies That Ship American Jobs Overseas. During her time in the House, Heather Wilson voted at least four times to protect special tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. [Vote 344, 5/21/08; Associated Press,5/21/08; Vote 161, 5/12/04; wolf.house.gov, accessed 7/12/12; Vote 291,6/19/03; wolf.house.gov, accessed 7/12/12; Vote 247, 6/21/02; New York Times, 5/13/02]
Politifact: ‘True’ That The Tax Code Allows Companies To Get A Tax Break When They Send Jobs To “China Or India Or Wherever.” In September 2010 Politifact ruled that the following statement from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was ‘True’: “The law, right now, permits companies that close down American factories and offices and move those jobs overseas to take a tax deduction for the costs associated with moving the jobs to China or India or wherever.” Whitehouse made this statement on the Senate floor while arguing for a proposal to close this loophole. Politifact concluded: “There is little debate that the current system allows companies to get a tax break for their expenses when they send jobs outside the U.S. We rate Whitehouse's statement True.” [Politifact, 11/21/10]
Wilson Voted Twice Against Banning Certain Federal Departments From Awarding Contracts To Companies That Incorporate Overseas. In 2006, Wilson voted against an amendment to the FY 07 Treasury, Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill that would have placed a ban on new contracts with corporate expatriates - companies that have incorporated on paper overseas in the tax haven countries of Bermuda, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, Panama. In 2005, Wilson voted against an amendment to ban the departments and agencies funded under the Transportation, Treasury & Housing Appropriations bill from contracting with corporate expatriate companies. [Vote 275, 6/14/06; Rep. Berry Press Release, 6/14/06; Vote 351, 6/30/05; Rep. DeLauro Press Release, 6/30/05]
Wilson Opposed Barring Corporations Laying Off More U.S. Workers Than They Do Overseas From Receiving Ex-Im Aid. In 2002, Wilson voted against an amendment the Associated Press reported “would have barred companies from receiving bank aid if they lay off more workers in the United States than in foreign countries.” The amendment was defeated, 135-283. [Vote 120, 5/01/02; AP, 5/01/02]
Wilson Signed Americans for Tax Reform Pledge Not to Eliminate Tax Deductions. In 2011, Wilson was listed as a signer of the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, stating that she opposed any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates. [Americans for Tax Reform Press Release,4/18/11]
ATR Called American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 a Taxpayer Protection Pledge Violation. In May 2010, Americans for Tax Reform issued a Tax Pledge Alert to announce that HR 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, was a Taxpayer Protection Pledge violation. The bill would eliminate $14.451 billion of foreign tax credit loopholes. [Americans for Tax Reform, Press Release,5/20/10; House Committee on Ways and Means, “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, HR 4213, 5/28/10]
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Rich Americans Tell Congress to End Bush Tax Breaks for Top 2%
From Voices for Progress: 87 of Richest Americans Tell Congress to End Bush Tax Breaks for Top 2% Urge Extension of Tax Cuts for Other 98% of Americans as Senate Vote Nears
Today, July 24, 2012, Eighty-seven of the richest Americans from 49 U.S. cities today sent a letter to Congress saying that it would be unwise and unfair to renew the special Bush tax cuts above $250,000 in household income that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest 2 percent. The Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent give people who earn over $1 million a year an average tax break of about $150,000, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
The letter is timely because tomorrow the Senate is expected to vote on the Middle Class Tax Cut Act (S. 3412). The bill would extend the Bush tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans for one year, but would end them for household income levels above $250,000 that only benefit the richest 2 percent.
“As individuals who have greatly benefited from the opportunities America has provided, we urge you to support S. 3412, Middle Class Tax Cut Act to extend tax cuts for all Americans on the first $250,000 of their income, while ending the extra tax cuts that go exclusively to the wealthiest 2 percent,” the letter says.
“Those of us who are business owners know that restoring taxes on the portion of our profits over $250,000 to Clinton era rates will have no impact on our decisions about whether to hire additional workers,” the letter adds. “Indeed, only about 3 percent of “small business” owners have more than $250,000 in profits — and those businesses, though they may meet the technical legal definition of ‘small,’ can afford to pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else.”
“Congress faces a choice,” the letter concludes. “It can ask the wealthiest 2 percent to limit ourselves to the tax cuts other Americans get — those on the portions of our incomes under $250,000 — so that it can shrink the deficit while continuing to invest in education, infrastructure, clean energy, health care, and rebuilding a strong middle class. Or it can slash investments vital to our nation’s future in order to be even more generous to those of us who need it the least. That shouldn’t be a hard choice.
Compared to continuing all the Bush tax cuts for a decade, ending them for the richest 2 percent would save nearly $1 trillion (including debt service savings), according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.
“Any successful entrepreneur who says the biggest driver behind their success was desire for a second Ferrari in their mega mansion garage is either kidding you or themselves,” said letter signer Paul Growald, a former director of TechRocks and a trustee for the Rockefeller Family Fund who lives in Burlington, VT. “It's a myth that taxing the super rich discourages entrepreneurs. Should we be rewarded? Of course. But not with the lowest tax rates of any comparable country.”
“My team used hard work, the rule of law and the internet to build a successful business,” said Christopher Findlater, founder of Auto Insurance Shopper, now known as NetQuote.com, the world’s largest insurance shopping site, with our 100 companies and 25 million customers. “I did not build this business myself. My team was wonderful and I include America on my team for funding and creating the Internet. We owe the next generation the opportunities that we had, including an affordable education and inspiring teachers. I try to make that possible and express my gratitude to America, and my fellow American citizens, by giving back. That means paying my fair share of taxes that I can afford to pay because I earned them, here, in America.”
“Extending these exclusive tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans is the wrong prescription for our financial future” said Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, which organized the letter and is a coalition member of the Americans for Tax Fairness campaign. “Our members, many of whom are millionaires, think it is irresponsible to give them extra cash they don’t need and mortgage our nation’s future on the backs of the middle class.”
Voices for Progress, a project of The Advocacy Fund, is a non-profit organization formed in 2009 to educate philanthropists, business leaders, state & local elected officials, and other community leaders to enable influential people who are focused on promoting the common good to serve as a counterweight to the millions of dollars in self-interested lobbying that distorts national policy.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Struggling New Mexicans Demand Leaders End Outrageous Tax Giveaways to Big Oil Companies
Following release is from OLÉ Education Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to empowering and improving the economic well-being of working New Mexicans.
Billboard campaign in Albuquerque highlights how taxpayers foot the bill for billions in big-oil tax breaks
New Mexicans who are struggling to fill their tanks today unveiled a billboard campaign calling attention to Big Oil receiving $4 billion in tax breaks despite raking in $137 billion in pure profits in 2011 alone.
Standing under a billboard featuring a frustrated driver and the message “Big oil gets billions in tax breaks … we pay the price. Why?!” New Mexicans called on elected officials and candidates to take a stand and outline their positions on whether they support preserving tax giveaways for the oil and gas industry.
The billboard campaign is sponsored by the Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) Education Fund.
“We pay high prices and the oil and gas companies get away with huge profits at our expense,” said Luis Garcia who works as a waiter in Albuquerque. “What’s worse? They also get $4 billion in tax breaks rubber stamped by Congress. Oil companies are robbing us at the pump and on tax day.”
Representative Steve Pearce, who represents southern New Mexico in Congress, has voted to preserve these tax giveaways for big oil 8 times since February of 2011 alone.
U.S. Senate Candidates Heather Wilson and Martin Heinrich have issued the following statements on the issue:
Heather Wilson: "Heather Wilson supports a balanced long-term energy policy that will create American jobs and reduce energy prices."
Martin Heinrich: "At a time when big oil companies are pulling in record profits, taxpayer dollars should not be padding the deep pockets of CEO's."
“It’s nice that we have something from our Senate candidates, but New Mexicans deserve to know what Heather Wilson and Martin Heinrich’s clear positions are on these tax breaks,” said Marie Aragon, resident of Albuquerque. “And with these statements, we’re not quite there yet.”
The billboards aim to call attention to how ordinary New Mexicans are paying the price for oil-company tax breaks and educate the public about politicians who are consistently voting to preserve tax breaks for an industry that raked in $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Most Polls Show Most Americans Want to End Bush Tax Cuts for Richest 2%
Following article was provided by the Americans for Tax Fairness.
(Washington, D.C. – July 17, 2012) A new McClatchy-Marist poll showing the majority of Americans want the Bush-era tax cuts to be extended for everyone conflicts with other polls, and probably is erroneous because the wording confused voters, according to a prominent pollster for Americans for Tax Fairness.
The McClatchy poll asked: “Which statement comes closer to your view: Congress should extend the tax cuts only for the middle class, but not for the top 2%, that is, households earning $250,000 or more, OR Congress should extend the tax cuts for everyone, including the top 2%, that is, households earning $250,000 or more.”
“In the first statement, survey respondents can't tell whether ‘earning $250,000 or more’ is defining the ‘middle class’ who receive the tax cuts or ‘the top 2%’ who do not, so it sounds to many people like the tax cuts are being extended only for the rich,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner and senior vice president with Hart Research Associates, which recently conducted polling for Americans for Tax Fairness and has done extensive polling on the Bush tax cuts issue.
“That ambiguity explains McClatchy's shocking, and implausible, finding that low-income and minority voters are most supportive of extending tax cuts for the richest 2 percent,” concluded Molyneux.
Other recent polls show the majority of Americans oppose extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent. They include:
- 60 percent of voters think it is “very important” to extend the cuts for families making less than $250,000, while just 40 percent think it is “very important” to extend those rates for all taxpayers. (United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, July 5-8 2012)
- Only 26 percent of the public wants to see all of the Bush-era tax breaks extended for at least another year and only 18 percent want the tax breaks across all income levels made permanent. 47 percent of respondents said they wanted to see the tax breaks extended only for those earning less than $250,000, and another 18 percent want all the tax breaks to expire. (United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, June 14-17 2012)
- 68 percent of Americans believe that it is acceptable to phase out the Bush tax cuts for families making over $250,000 per year. (Bipartisan NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey conducted by Peter Hart of Hart Research Associates & Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, February 24-28, 2011)
Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) is a diverse campaign of national, state and local organizations united in support of a tax system that works for all Americans. It has come together based on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. This starts by ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2 percent and by making critical investments that create and sustain jobs while taking a balanced approach to addressing America’s fiscal challenges.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Final Countdown to Pre-Primary Election June 5, 2012
T minus 6 days.
Primaries are tough. This year the CD1 primary has been real tough. Barb had a way to wrap up all the "he said she said's." For me it is a struggle. I feel like I should have a striped shirt on and a whistle, yelling "Fowl, ten yard penalty".
Who am I to say what is a penalty unless it is very blatant. And to be fair each claim brought up by a campaign against the other has to be researched in depth. So far Eric's campaign stating Michelle was in charge of the Ft Bayard complex when things were so horrible down there, is the most awful thing. However, what it triggers for me is how the poor souls living in those types of conditions still exist I am sure. Our society is not caring for our elderly. We do not staff the senior care centers right and more of us are getting old and will need care of some sort. Bottom line, the senior care centers need more funding and oversight. Reviewing the federal report briefly it appears Michelle worked very openly with the federal gov't when they stepped in to review this nightmare. But, I am sure it is still going on within this state somewhere. I had the pleasure of shadowing Michelle for a day back in February, to a Native American senior gathering, and these seniors just lit up seeing Michelle. Each one saying how she helped them out. I took video testimonials at the time but never had time to put them up. I will share one now.
As for Eric and his speeding tickets and other non violent fines, what can I say? First thing that comes to mind is "is that the best you all got?" Oh yeah, there is the fact that Eric only had one bill that he carried pass. For me that is a sign of the road block times we live in. No wonder he got speeding tickets after being in this legislature and seeing nothing get done, and very important measures being voted down, like senior care and oversight. I may be speeding too! Folks should not forget that Eric cast many many votes for all the other bills during his 4 years as a senator. They were the right votes and were very much needed for the people. I am sharing a video below of Eric speaking about the DREAM act, Let's think about all the people the DREAM act will help, kids that want to learn and make a difference.
Last but not least is Marty. Marty could still pull this out for sure. Marty has his pluses and minuses as all human beings. He is staying out of the finalist riffraff it appears. The fouls were being thrown early between Eric and Marty as CD1 candidates. There is no sense in revisiting these here and now. Suffice to say Marty could still pull out a win.
I am putting up a video below of all three candidates at a debate that was sponsored by Bern Co ward 11A. The question was about the budget, balancing the budget.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Eric Griego Calls for Tax Fairness on Tax Day
Today, NM-1 Democratic congressional candidate Eric Griego criticized Congress’ refusal to pass the “Buffett Rule” yesterday and called for tax fairness.
Eric Griego’s statement is as follows:
“I am deeply disappointed that yesterday, Republicans in the Senate blocked the so-called “Buffett Rule” -- a proposal which takes a solid first step towards creating tax fairness for working families by requiring millionaires to pay about the same as the middle class.
“Luckily, this fight is not over – Congress has until December 31st to agree on a budget that ends the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, restoring some ounce of tax fairness.
“Ending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires is the right thing to do to restore tax fairness. Last year, there were 7,000 millionaires who didn’t pay a single penny in federal income taxes. In the meantime, Republicans in Congress are pushing for a budget that puts vital programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the chopping block.
“As a state senator, I sponsored and helped pass legislation to get the richest to pay taxes more fairly. In Congress, I will use my legislative experience and proven success fighting the Republicans’ failed trickle-down economics to restore tax fairness for the middle class.”
While I'm disappointed that the Senate failed to take this important first step, we need to keep up the pressure. Will you sign my open letter in support of ending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires? Last year there were 7,000 millionaires who didn't pay a single penny in federal income taxes. That's not right. If you agree, click here to sign.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
What if GE Paid Their Fair Share in Taxes?
Just think how the republicans would vote to repeal this unfair tax matter in this state? They would vote NO. Even with the facts displayed so clearly. Even if their own children would have a better life with GE paying their fair share the Republicans in office now in this state would vote NO.
From AFSCME: If GE paid their fair share in taxes (instead of taking advantage of loopholes to pay next to nothing), they would have owed an average of $2.67 billion in federal taxes over the last 10 years according to a report by Citizens for Tax Justice. That amount of revenue could pay the wages for 56,000 fire fighters, or 95,000 school bus drivers, or 56,000 police and sheriff’s patrol officers, or 39,000 registered nurses, or 53,000 librarians, or 107,000 teachers assistants.
AFSCME just launched an info graphic today, which shows what our communities would do with the $2.67 billion dollars that GE is NOT paying in taxes. Take a look at www.afscme.org/taxday.