It’s tax reform time — what do you not want to see cut in the federal budget?

A big driver for the extreme cost cuts in the failed ACA repeal bills is the upcoming tax reform debates, in which Republicans would like to enact major tax cuts. That’s the same reason that dramatic cuts have been proposed across the House Appropriations Committee’s budget bill. Here are a few things you should know about the House’s 2018 Budget Plan:

  • The House’s budget plan is actually a non-binding resolution, but it lays out a spending plan which would allow the Senate to pass followup bills without a Democratic filibuster. In addition, using reconciliation rules, they can avoid the usual requirement of a 60 vote majority and pass pieces of the budget with a simple majority, making even egregious proposals more likely to pass than in recent years.
  • The instructions in the budget go well beyond tax policy and curtail financial industry regulations, key IRS oversight, federal employee benefits, welfare spending and more.
  • Like Trump’s budget, the House plan envisions major cuts to federal spending over the coming decade to balance the budget, but relies on accelerated economic growth to boost revenue at a rate far above the CBO’s estimated economic growth projections.
  • The plan proposes major increases to the military budget — above existing caps and spending limits.
  • The plan proposes unprecedented cuts to mandatory and safety net programs that even many  Republicans are unhappy with. Conservatives want to see bigger cuts, while moderates are squeamish about cutting vital programs like food stamps.
  • The plan relies on a high level of economic growth to pay for itself above the rate of growth projected by Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Analysis shows that Republican tax plans would disproportionately benefit the rich.

Congress is in recess for the month of August, but when they return in September, they will have only 4 weeks to figure out a spending plan and little more to address the debt ceiling. Meanwhile, after the failure of GOP senators to pass health care reform, Senate Democrats have reached out to help create bipartisan solutions on difficult to pass tax reform. It’s important their offices hear from us now on the budget issues that matter to us (we’ve given you some ideas below).

CALL TO ACTION

  • Call on your members of Congress to stand up for the programs you care about in the federal budget. Tax money is your money. Ask representatives and senators to spend it on programs where it is most needed, and not to weaken the authority of the IRS to conduct important oversight. Ask your members of Congress to reach across the aisle for bipartisan solutions on tax reform and spending. Ask your members of Congress to reach across the aisle for bipartisan solutions on tax reform and spending. NOTE: Our Rep. Chris Stewart voted FOR the House spending bill a s part of the House Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Check here.

Here are some ideas:

  • Oppose cuts to safety net programs. Food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid are among the top losers in the House’s budget plan.
  • Support affordable housing. The House’s budget plans to cut $7.4 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), putting hundreds of thousands of families at risk of homelessness and increased poverty. Budget cuts significantly cut funding for critical affordable housing resources that provide lifelines for extremely low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable populations. The current shortage in affordable housing across the country is already categorized as a “crisis.”
  • Stand up for renewable energy funding. The House’s budget bill proposes cutting energy efficiency and renewables spending in half, despite the fact that solar jobs last year grew 17 times faster than the total U.S. jobs market, while wind power has become cheaper than other energy in some states and other countries like China are significantly ramping up investments in renewables to become strong competitors in the energy market of the future.
  • Push for public media broadcasting. Although the House bill includes funding for the Corporations for Public Broadcasting, it fails to fund the interconnectivity that allows broadcasting of public media to the public. Email Congress using this link to ask them to support full funding for public media broadcasting.
  • Oppose the weakening of the IRS’s authority to collect data and assess penalties on ACA individual mandates, which sabotages the individual mandates program, causing fewer health people to sign up for insurance and spiking health care premiums for everyone.
  • Oppose the repeal of the IRS’s ability to regulate conservation easements. Theoretically conservations are a win-win — except when land values and potential development values are ballooned on tax returns to the advantage of investors. For this reason, greater IRS scrutiny was put in place over conservation easements last December, much to the chagrin of one of this tax break’s biggest fans: Donald J. Trump, who has nearly $64 million in conservation easements to his name. Now Congress has made moves to tell the IRS to keep their hands off the President’s favorite charitable tax dodge. How? By defunding the IRS by $149 million to start (audits are much harder with no one to perform them) and by removing the IRS’ jurisdiction over conservation easements altogether.
  • Protect nonpartisan organizations from being politicized. Trump vowed in February to kill the Republican Johnson Amendment, a 63-year old Republican bill with longstanding bipartisan support that requires 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations NOT to be politicized by interfering or participating in political campaigns for candidates. A small number of far right organizations are pushing to repeal or weaken the amendment, as are bills in both the House and the Senate. The House spending bill weakens the Johnson Amendment through a rider (Section 116) that makes it virtually impossible for the IRS to enforce the Johnson Amendment and allows tax deductible dark money to funnel  through our houses of worship and nonprofits into politics. To find out more about this issue, please click here.

Further Reading:

PBS Newshour: “House GOP budget plan calls for major cuts to benefits, paving way for tax overhaul bill
Washington Post: “House GOP unveils budget plan that attaches major spending cuts to coming tax overhaul bill

 

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