Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

Thanks To GOP Tax Cut, Bank Profits Rose $28.8 Billion In 2018

Colorado resident Isadora Bielsky was recently brought to tears when she learned that, rather than getting a refund, she owed $8,000 in taxes this year, thanks to the GOP tax scam.

But while Republicans punish folks like Bielsky, federal data shows U.S. banks ended 2018 with $28.8 billion in extra profit because of the same Republican tax bill.

Banks saw their profits soar by more than $70 billion over 2017 levels, but the $28.8 billion was solely because of goodies and kickbacks Republicans inserted into the tax bill, which passed Congress in late 2017 without a single vote from a Democrat.

While Republicans lavished breaks on wealthy corporations, many families are now learning that the GOP left them out in the cold.“I don’t know who it’s helping, but it’s not helping the middle class,” a single mother told one Massachusetts television station.

She had just learned that she would be getting a significantly lower tax refund this year than she expected.But the tax law is greatly benefiting certain segments of America: banks and wealthy corporations. Amazon made $11.2 billion profit, but rather than pay any taxes, they filed for a $129 million refund. Other corporations like Goodyear, Netflix, and U.S. Steel each made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, and each is seeking a refund.

When they set to work revising the tax code, Republicans did all they could to favor the wealthy and powerful. Trump and his congressional allies slashed the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and kept plenty of loopholes to further reduce corporate burdens. But for families, Republicans made sure 80 percent of the benefits from their plan eventually flow to the richest one percent of families.

The issue for working families is exacerbated because of new tax withholding rules in the GOP tax scam. When Republicans bragged about bigger paychecks last year — even highlighting a woman who would only take home an additional $1.50 per week — they failed to mention that the new withholding rules would impact tax refunds this April.

Even for taxpayers like Bielsky who tried to do everything right, the GOP tax scam managed to pack a financial wallop. Bielsky has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and her husband is a doctor. They went to the IRS website to make sure their withholdings were correct.

“If we can’t figure this out, and we can’t rely on the IRS and their calculators to give us the right information, what are we supposed to do?” she said, speaking with a local CBs affiliate.

As more Americans file their taxes, more are learning the extent of the damage wrought by the Republican Party. Early IRS data shows that if people are getting a refund, it is eight percent lower, on average, than last year. However, the same data shows 16 percent fewer people are even receiving a refund this year.

“It was a big scam that was put over on people that, ‘oh, these tax cuts are gonna be for everybody,’” Diane Masters told a local Massachusetts television station. “They are not for everybody at all,” she added.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Steven Mnuchin testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Treasury secretary in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Why The American Majority Despises Trump’s Washington

Donald Trump, never lacking in self-esteem, bragged in 2016: “I know words — I have the best words.”

Well, sometimes he does put together a coherent sentence, using some very fine words that convey great promise, such as this one: “I’m going to fight for every person in this country who believes government should serve the people — not the donors and special interests.” And, if those words are too highbrow for you, Trump made the same promise with some punchier words, declaring he would “drain the swamp” to rid Washington of those creepy, crawly corporate lobbyists.

Excellent words! But words only matter if the speaker actually means them, backing their rhetorical promise with action. As we’ve seen though, far from draining the swamp, this president proceeded immediately to convert the White House itself into a fetid cesspool of self-serving corporate executives, lobbyists, and banksters.

His transition team was almost exclusively made up of those swamp critters. His $100-million, glitzy inaugural celebration was bankrolled by Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Pharma and other Bigs that attached their legislative and regulatory demands to the checks they donated. Most of his cabinet members, agency heads and top aides came straight out of Wall Street and corporate suites, turning Trump’s government into a gold-plated sump pump that’s routinely funneling trillions of our dollars and thousands of special favors to the moneyed elite.

Asked why he appointed only multimillionaire Wall Street hucksters to design and administer his economic policy, he offered this scramble of words that inadvertently revealed his true, plutocratic soul: “I love all people, rich or poor. But in these positions, I just don’t want a poor person.”

Really? Not even one official who understands poverty from firsthand experience, rather than from the bias of right-wing ideologues? And what about those hard-hit middle-class workers Trump always talks about? Nope. He’s not appointed even one to a top policy position. So, forget Trump’s words. If the poor and middle class aren’t in his government, they’re neither in his heart nor in his policies.

It’s odd that Washington Republicans are so publicly high-fiving each other and loudly crowing about their strictly partisan passage last December of the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax law. Odd, because the people outside of Washington hate that law.

Yes, hate. With a dismal public approval rating of only 30 percent, the GOP’s trillion dollar Christmas present to multinational corporations and multimillionaires has been tagged by a top surveyor of public opinion as Congress’ second-most disliked domestic bill in the past quarter-century. Second only to the Trump-McConnell-Ryan trio’s attempts last year to take away the healthcare coverage of 23 million Americans – a mingy move that only 23 percent of the public supports.

Why do these doofuses keep trying to shove such wildly unpopular measures down people’s throats? Because, as The Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky succinctly explained, “They are serving their mega-rich donors and the most extreme elements of their base.” In today’s rigged, convoluted political system, the special interests of the narrow minority trumps the will of the great majority.

That is where America’s fast-expanding, socially destructive inequality comes from. The tax giveaway to the corporations, for example, guts our public treasury, so the Republican Congress, White House, and army of corporate lobbyists are now demanding cuts in the Social Security, Medicare, and other essential programs the majority of us need.

To pretend that they give a damn, the plutocratic powers are presently pulling a trickle-down PR trick on us. The GOP’s bill drastically reduced their taxes and increases many of ours, so to dodge public fury, they’re making a show of awarding a tiny portion of their bonanza to workers — not as pay raises, but as one-time “bonus” payments. Bank of America, for example, is doling out about $130 million in worker bonuses, while keeping $2.6 billion it will get next year alone from Trump’s tax bill.

If the corporate-GOP syndicate wonders why they’re so despised, there it is.

Populist author, public speaker, and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.

 

 

OMB Chief Mulvaney Is Making The World Safe For Loan Sharks

Reprinted with permission from DC Report.

The trade group for the payday loan industry, which profits from interest rates as high as 950% a year imposed on the poorest among us, is planning to hold its annual conference this year at Trump’s golf resort near Miami.

The industry will have a lot to celebrate at the four-day conference in April of the Community Financial Services Association of America, which spent $460,000 on federal lobbying in 2017. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, our nation’s independent agency that is supposed to be a watchdog for consumers, recently announced that the bureau will reconsider a rule that could have cut industry revenue by two-thirds.

The bureau also ended an investigation into an installment lender whose PAC gave at least $4,500 in campaign donations to Mick Mulvaney, the former South Carolina congressman who is now the acting head of the bureau. The bureau also dropped a lawsuit in Kansas against four payday lending companies that charged interest rates of 440% to 950%.

“Mulvaney is inviting financial predators to help him dismantle consumer safeguards,” said Bart Naylor of Public Citizen.

Much of the payday loan rule was supposed to take effect in August 2019. It required payday lenders to determine whether the borrower could actually repay the loan with interest within 30 days while still paying basic living expenses like rent and car expenses. The loans are often due within two weeks and have annual interest rates of about 390%.

Our nation has more payday loan stores than McDonald’s restaurants – nearly 18,000. They make about $46 billion in loans each year and collect more than $7 billion in fees. Researchers estimate that about 12 million people, many who can’t get other credit, borrow from payday lenders each year.

Big banks such as Wells Fargo finance eight major payday lenders. The banks can borrow money at 0.5% from the Fed and then lend it to the payday lenders.

The rule also limited the number of times a borrower could rollover a loan. Payday loans are frequently structured with balloon payments. Borrowers unable to repay the full amount can rollover the loan, racking up hundreds of dollars in fees while still owing the original amount of the loan.

“One payday loan often leads to another payday loan and so on into a debt trap,” said Christopher Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah who advised the bureau on the payday loan rule. “…The average borrower is taking out eight of these loans per year.”

Trump appointed Mulvaney to be acting head of the bureau, replacing Richard Cordray who resigned in November. Cordray appointed Leandra English as acting director. She has sued Trump and Mulvaney to try to block Mulvaney from running the agency. The lawsuit is pending.

Mulvaney has asked for no money to fund the agency in the second half of 2018 and has told bureau staffers to show “humility and prudence” and to not “push the envelope.”