Piles upon Piles of Bullpucky: The Latest on Tax Reform and Wealth Disparity

After a string of stinging legislative failures, President Trump and the herd of cats called the Congressional Republicans are trying to run tax reform up the flag pole. To say that there is much at stake is to wildly understate the importance of tax reform to the respective legacies (such as they current stand) of Trump and the GOP-dominated 115th Congress. It’s late fall, and it’s nut-cutting time for those crazy DC squirrels.

Did you catch this press conference of White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders—she who replaced the beleaguered Spicey—explaining President Trump’s plan for tax reform? If not, take a few minutes to watch it before proceeding, because I’m not going to repeat the details. Sanders reads aloud an anecdotal story that will be the basis for much of what follows—a metaphor involving 10 members of the press who regularly get together to drink beer at a bar.

Let’s assume, for the moment, that Sanders’ metaphor explaining the range of federal tax burdens on Americans isn’t a large, steaming pile of bullpucky. That how our federal tax system works—simple as that. Three of the poorest bar-hound reporters don’t pay for any of the beer they drink, and a couple of the wealthiest pay an inordinately large amount of the tab.

(It really does beg the question: Why doesn’t Trump just release his tax returns? If it’s that simple, wouldn’t billionaire Trump want to show us precisely how badly he’s being screwed? But I digress.)

The United States remains the wealthiest country on the planet. Some of you Devil’s advocates will argue against this, but whatever. Forbes and Business Insider say we’re still Numero Uno, and I’m going with that. In the parlance of we Northern Californians, America has hella wealth.

What Ms. Sanders doesn’t mention is that since the advent of the Reagan Revolution, beer drinkers #9 and #10 have cornered more than 50% of our nation’s wealth, and their share of our nation’s wealth continues to grow. Meanwhile, the shares of wealth of beer drinkers #1 through #7—the poor, working class, and by far most of the middle class—have long been on the decline. The middle class is shrinking in both size and share of the nation’s wealth—prior to the advent of the Reagan Revolution, it held the nation’s largest share wealth. The upper middle class—beer drinker #8—is more-or-less holding its own.

Oh, and just wait for the Congressional Budget Office’s scorecard—if Trump’s plan passes, deficits are going to explode. We’ve been down this road twice, once with Reagan’s tax cuts, and once with Bush II’s tax cuts. If there is a more thoroughly disproved academic theory than supply-side economics, it’s only Lamarckian genetics, and not by much. Balancing the budget via tax cuts—Reagan’s prediction that he loved to illustrate with Laffer curves—is so thoroughly disproved that early in Bush II’s reign his VEEP Dick Cheney proclaimed: “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

Maybe the federal debt doesn’t matter if you’re a selfish, cynical, septuagenarian billionaire who wants more, more, more. Maybe if you’ve only got about a decade left, running up the nation’s credit cards to create the illusion of prosperity doesn’t matter —but only if your conscience, if you had one to begin with, is a dead, shriveled, rotting husk of its former self. I think it matters to our kids and grandkids, though.

So in light of how America works now—in the context of who is building wealth at unprecedented rates—we’re supposed to believe from Sanders’ story that beer drinker #10—the wealthiest of the wealthy—is going to sweep up his chips and walk away from the table in a hissy fit. He’s going to stop generating increasing quantities of incredible wealth for himself for the sole purpose of no longer paying such a high share of taxes.

That is why that beer-drinkers metaphor is absolute nonsense, designed to chump us for the sole benefit the über-wealthy. It’s a pile of bullpucky deeper than Trump’s response to a reporter regarding how much he stood to benefit from his tax plan: “No, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit. In fact, very very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

If you buy that steaming pile of bullpucky, I’ve got a sundial-shaped bridge across the Sacramento I’ll sell you at a great price, believe me. It’s a hell of a bargain—that I can promise you.

Steven Towers
Steve Towers is co-owner of a local environmental consultancy. After obtaining his Ph.D. from UC Davis and dabbling as a UCD lecturer, he took a salary job with a Sacramento environmental firm. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic on Highway 50 one afternoon, he reckoned that he was receiving 80 hours of paid vacation per year and spending 520 hours per year commuting to and from work. He and his wife Elise sold their house and moved to Redding three months later, and have been here for more than 20 years. His hobbies include travel, racquet sports, taking the dogs on hikes, and stirring pots. He can be reached at towers.steven@gmail.com
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69 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Three+ more years of this? Lord help us because apparently Congress won’t. Neither will Sacramento if today’s gas and vehicle tax is any indication.

    • Tim says:

      I’m pleased with the gas tax — I wish it was even higher. American’s love of cheap gasoline has subsidized big oil, caused us to abandon our principles of liberty (supporting regimes like Saudi Arabia & meddling in mid east conflicts), and distorted the free market away from alternative energy.

      An honest cost is more like the $6+ /gal paid in the UK & France or $7/gal paid in Norway & Denmark.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        The second comment I read when I wake up and see that my op-ed has posted makes me think I was transported to Bizarro World in my sleep. Tim, I’m dumbfounded.

        • The Old Pretender says:

          The cost of production, subsidies, and environmental damage is far more than what is paid at the pump. Tim has a point. Add in these true costs and alternative power suddenly becomes more than just viable.

      • K. Beck says:

        Well, gee, it is a strange, strange, strange world. Here I am agreeing with Tim!!! Yes, this has been apparent to me since 1971 during my first trip to Europe. However, we are being fed another pile of BS by Gov. Brown about why he”needed” to do this. How about a full accounting of where ALL the CA gas tax/license fee money has/is spent??
        And jacking up the cost of owning a car by increasing the license fees? What, exactly, is the alternative to driving a car in CA. Hitchhiking? Walking? Using a bicycle?

        Both of these new taxes will hit lower income people smack in the nose. Period.

        Rich people making tax laws. Perfect.

      • Anita Lynn Brady says:

        I agree, Tim.

    • Common Sense says:

      If you Mean 3 More years of Conservatives in the W.H Bev…..yes….Trump…..he will be completely done within a year tops.

      Next to be arrested should be Flynn and his son. Mueller is just adding to the pile of evidence at this point. He is executing this like a seasoned Surgeon…with Precision and Stealthy moves.Working the low hanging fruit…..getting them to Flip…..

      When 45’s approval rating drops below 30 and they get the Tax Cuts through….he is toast.They will turn on him…..the only reason they have not turned on him yet….they need those Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Donors!

      The RNC knows the Mid Terms are just around the corner….and backing the Twitterer in Chief any longer than they need to could lead to Large losses in the Mid’s.

  2. Tim says:

    Sarah Huckabee’s analogy is from a 15+ year-old internet chain letter and, while not 100% accurate, does a reasonable job explaining how the rich shoulder the majority of the tax burden in our country.

    Will producers ever stop producing completely if treated poorly? No, but they won’t produce as much and they will shift operations to places with less friction. An estimated 10,000 businesses left California from 2008-2015. And as of May 2017, $2.6 Trillion cash is being held offshore by US companies to avoid high corporate taxes (to give you an idea of scale, the US has only $1.5 trillion printed dollars in circulation). In 2012, Forbes estimated that wealthy *individuals* from developed nations have stashed between $20 and 30 trillion in offshore tax havens. So yeah, drinker #10 can reach a point he decides to go home and take the ball with him…

    And just how many drink for free? 45% of Americans paid no federal income tax in 2016 ( https://secure.marketwatch.com/story/45-of-americans-pay-no-federal-income-tax-2016-02-24 ). You may also recall Mitt Romney putting the final nail in his 2012 presidential campaign coffin when video surfaced of him mentioning the then-47% figure… (That figure is just income taxes, those in the 45% with jobs do have half of their social security/medicare taxes deducted from their paychecks – an amount that is still insufficient to cover the eventual benefits).

    And I still have heard no good rational argument, other than jealousy, why income inequality is bad as long as everyone is getting richer and social mobility is possible (would you rather be absolute equals in a Neanderthal cave or the poorest man in Dubai?). All classes are getting richer on an absolute basis, even if it feels like some are being left behind when it comes to subsequent gains.

    The super rich in America do not generally stay at the top for generations, as is common in Europe. Only 32 of the Forbes 400 remained on the list after 30 years. Only 60 of 1955’s Fortune 500 companies made the list in 2017 (meaning 88% of companies fell off the list in 2 generations). 80% of today’s millionaires are the first in their family.

    Besides, 1980 — the peak of stagflation — is hardly something we should aspire to.

    That all said, it is folly to cut taxes when our current debt load, including unfunded liabilities, is equal to approximately 30 years of revenue ($120 trillion debt / $4 trillion annual tax revenue). But we did elect the bankrupter in chief…

    • cheyenne says:

      Tim, actually Romney stated that he wasn’t worried about 47% of the people because they were already being taken care of, social programs already in effect. The left twisted to say Romney meant he didn’t care about 47% of the people. But it hurt his campaign. It was akin to HRC calling red state voters deplorables. Those same red state voters that voted for Obama but didn’t vote for her.
      I agree that federal fuel taxes should be raised but I don’t want to give the government anymore money to waste, either party. And you cannot compare a country as large or populous as America to much smaller European countries.

      • Tim says:

        Romney’s 47% video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=M2gvY2wqI7M

        Both Europe & the US have ~4,000,000 square miles of land, but Europe has more than twice the population (~720 million people to our ~320). If all else were equal, Europe should have less of an issue with “old money” — yet it does…

        • cheyenne says:

          Depending on one’s view Romney spoke the truth.
          And all is not or ever has been equal in Europe compared to America. Some of that European old money is older than America.

          • Tim says:

            You’re absolutely right on both counts.

            The European Rothschild fortune, for instance, originated in the 1760s. Despite diluting the wealth amongst hundreds of descendants, individual Rothschilds still rank prominently today (sir Evelyn de Rothschild is worth $20 billion, Jacob Rothschild $5 billion). In contrast, the 174 Rockefellers combined have $11 billion.

            Still, with more than twice the population and similar standards of living, you’d think Europe would have two Richard Bransons for every Phil Knight instead of the other way around…

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Cheyenne — Romney most certainly did not say that he wasn’t worried about them because they were taken care of. He said that they didn’t matter because they weren’t going to vote for him. There’s a world of difference in those two attitudes.

        Funny thing is, in retrospect Romney now looks like a saint.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Tim — I’m not so much against income inequality as I am against the cornering and hoarding of wealth. I harbor no jealousy regarding Zuckerman, Gates, Bezos, Buffett, and Ellison regarding their incomes, or the incomes of their highest lieutenants. If all boats were floating higher, year after years, I’d be okay with those people getting crazy-rich.

      But that’s not what’s happening in America. The middle class is shrinking. Millions of middle class people who are approaching retirement age in this country are struggling, and are ill prepared for retirement, many owing to events not of their making.

      I do agree with you that if we’re going to cut taxes, a good staring place is to take a hard look at corporate taxes.

      • Tim says:

        Steve, while they may feel left behind, the middle class is actually doing just fine; median household income is the highest it has ever been — even adjusted for inflation: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEHOINUSA672N

        • Tim says:

          Personal income too: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEPAINUSA672N

          Note that the Carter years were the worst on record…

        • michael kielich says:

          If I ask my dad or countless of other people in their 70s, they all say the same thing. Money went a lot farther back when they were in their 30s and 40s. My immigrant dad had a mediocre job upon arriving to Sacramento in 1964. His rent was only 1/7th of his income. He had extra cash left over and didn’t need to borrow on credit. In the 70s, he was easily able to support a family on a single income. He bought a $14,000 house without credit. Who can do that today? That kind of lifestyle is clearly not the case now. I am a teacher and I work with a lot of families and their children. Most of them have families where both the husband and wife have to work, including myself. I know maybe only one family whose rent or mortgage is 1/7th of their income. Mostly it is closer to 1/3. The graph by the U.S. Bureau of the Census is nice for promoting U.S. prosperity but it is far more complicated than what a graph can show. After all, the government decided not to include food and energy into core inflation. Maybe the dirt on the Ivory Tower is just being whitewashed. I am not complaining, I live a great life and have reaped the benefits of our system but I think it is hard to argue that things aren’t getting harder for most in America. I certainly couldn’t pay cash for a $200,000+ house. I will pay $400,000 because I will have to pay interest to those who want the tax breaks.

          • Tim says:

            It is tempting to look back with nostalgia, but the good ol’ days weren’t all that good – especially if you weren’t male, didn’t have fair skin, and/or had a last name ending in “berg” or “stein.” And even if you were lucky enough to be a white Christian male, you had a 1 in 3 chance of going to Vietnam if you were of the appropriate age.

            But let’s look at the actual numbers — how long did you have to work to buy various goods:
            item……………………….1960……..today
            pork chops, lb………….32min….9min
            sirloin, lb…………………27min….17min
            Burger McDs……………6min……3min
            dozen eggs……………….17min…..4min
            loaf of bread……………..6min……5min
            Levi’s Jeans……………..160min…119min
            banana, lb…………………3min……1min
            peaches, can……………..9min…….3min
            6pk dom beer…………….32min…..20min
            movie ticket……………….32min…..19min
            Week’s elec for 1 light…14min…..21sec
            Frd Falcon/Fusion……..1050hrs….805hrs
            sqft of home……………….5hrs……….4hrs

            That Ford Fusion has antilock brakes, traction control, front rear & side airbags, a backup camera, Bluetooth enabled radio, cruise control, power steering, air conditioning, dimming mirrors, 6-way adjustable seat, rear AC ducts, 6-speed automatic transmission and gets an honest 32mpg on the highway. That 1960 Ford Falcon had a 3 speed manual transmission, no AC, drum brakes with asbestos brake linings, no power steering, no power brakes, roll-up windows, etc.

            And that 1960 house? Probably no AC, no microwave, no dishwasher, no garbage disposal, no laundry, maybe a 1-car garage, lead paint, asbestos insulation, and it was half the square footage despite families being larger (3.4 vs 2.5 today).

            1960: $4007 median annual income, 41 hour avg workweek
            2016: $48665 median annual income, 37 hour avg workweek

          • Tim says:

            Forgot to mention working conditions:

            In 1970 1 in every 9,000 workers died on the job. 1 in 9 were injured.
            Today, 1 in 42,000 workers die on the job, and 1 in 30 are injured in a given year.

  3. cheyenne says:

    It has been over thirty years since the Reagan Revolution, half of that under Democratic presidents, and the wealth gap keeps enlarging. Each side blames the other in a never ending battle of division. When candidates, of either party, are asking for fund raiser donations that start at $10,000 it shows that neither party can feel the middle class pain.
    Unlike others I believe there is a sea change coming in politics and it is being brought out because of President Trump. This is what you get when you’re not involved. America will see more women stepping out of their meek roles and take charge. It is already happening, maybe not in Redding, but elsewhere in the country. Women are not content to remain in PTA but move on up into the school board. The next governor of Wyoming may be a Democratic woman. The CEOs of the two largest hospitals in Wyoming are women. One of the commanders at the Warren Air Base in control of nukes is a woman. The president of the University of Wyoming is a woman who replaced a man who basically was run out of town on a rail.
    Don’t take a knee and wail woe is me, get involved.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      The first step in resisting is speaking out—that’s what I’m doing with this column. It’s not taking a knee and wailing “woe is me.” It’s pointing out to anyone who will listen: The emperor has no clothes.

  4. john says:

    Releasing tax records is not a requirement to be POTUS. Get over it! Any type of tax plan is going to be bad. It is so out of control one can only wait for the system to implode.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      No one said it’s a requirement—it’s a longstanding tradition. It goes to honesty, transparency, and integrity—and it’s a window on potential conflicts of interest. You are welcome to get over it. I think I’ll go ahead and choose not to. What’s Trump got to hide?

    • Common Sense says:

      Mueller already has those Tax Returns! So the Point is now Mute…..They will probably show some very interesting things in them…..just more evidence in the Financial Crimes 45 will be charged with.

  5. conservative says:

    Democrats get about 35% of the vote in Shasta county and similar rural California counties. Is the income gap a winning strategy?

    The Democrats lost the last election, not because of the Russians, but because HRC could not unite the democrat party and the Bernie Sanders wing caused moderates to vote Republican. More Bernie Sanders rhetoric and “hands up don’t shoot” may cost the Democrats the 2018 election.

    Marin county is California’s wealthiest county. California has the highest rate of poverty when the cost of living is taken into account (according to the U.S. census). Calpers and Calstrs annuitants are wise to leave California, formerly a good place to invest.

    • The Old Pretender says:

      If the Democrats don’t start embracing progressive policies espoused by Sanders, including progressive taxation that made the middle class during the last century, they will indeed lose. Your “hands up don’t shoot” comment only shows you to truly be ignorant of life outside your bubble.

  6. cheyenne says:

    California is the poster child for the negative effects of raising taxes on it’s citizens and businesses can do.

    • The Old Pretender says:

      Say what!? I would gladly pay the state for good roads and bridges and protection from fire. All that could be funded with a small part of the funds sent to the Feds to fund bombs, drones, and political sell-outs.

  7. Frank Treadway says:

    At last a forum to share observations about Sarah Huckaby Sanders and her escalating use of facial makeup. The more upset and angry she gets at the Press podium, in her attempt to support the guy in the White House, the more her eyebrows get arched, her eyelid makeup takes on a green hue and the eye liner begins to extend further toward her pulsating temples…when will her hose begin extending ? Saturday Night Live where are you on this one ?
    Further on CA: After traveling to more than 30 countries and most US states, I would rather live in the 6th most wealthy State/Nation, despite its flaws, than most other states or countries, just do the comparison.

  8. conservative says:

    California’s transformation from a good place to retire, invest and raise a family has strongly effected Shasta county over the last fifteen years. The current trend is likely to accelerate. A few years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a physician recruiter. Physicians thinking of investing in inland CA would be wise to consider its reputation. With the middle class and corporations leaving CA, the beauty of Whiskeytown and Lassen may not be enough.

    • The Old Pretender says:

      Going where, Texas? Good riddance to bad rubbish. The taxation problem is not from the state, at ~6% of my income, but with the Feds ~26% of my annual income. If the the state raised their portion of the gas tax to reflect the environmental damage to both air and aquifer, we would all be moving to solar panels on our roof and funding public transportation wherever we can. The state and its residents would be better for it.

      • K. Beck says:

        …”all” meaning those who could afford to move to solar panels…you live in Shasta Co. and you don’t understand the poverty rate here?

        • The Old Pretender says:

          I’m very aware of the poverty rates in Northern California. Residents with homes having subsidized panel installation is better for the working poor than whatever funds are returned to them through token tax rebates. For the poorest or homeless, energy requirements are basic and desperate, these needs must be met by other means. Besides that, they don’t have the same taxation rate as I do, so reducing the rate does them no good anyway. Don’t put apples with oranges.

  9. cheyenne says:

    In news that really matters. Brock is back.

    • K. Beck says:

      Are you injecting football into this discussion?…”news that really matters”…REALLY? Please take that to the Open Conversation section of ANC. Talk about deflection …that so called President has nothing on you!

      • cheyenne says:

        In news that really matters. It is the first of the month and I have signed up to donate $10.00 a month to Anews, if it went through. Have you?

  10. Tim says:

    Congressional Budget Office numbers for tax year 2010:

    Bottom 20% earned an average $24,100 and paid $400 in federal taxes.
    Next 20% earned an average $44,200 and paid $3,200 in taxes.
    Middle 20% earned an average $65,400 and paid $7,500 in federal taxes.
    Next 20% earned $95,500 and paid $14,900 in federal taxes.
    Top 20% earned an average $239,100 and paid $57,300 in federal taxes.

    Percentage of total tax revenue:
    Bottom quintile 0.5%
    2nd quintile 4.0%
    middle quintile 9.4%
    4th quintile: 18.7%
    Top quintile: 67.4%

    So any reasonably

    • Tim says:

      *So any reasonably fair tax cut will seem to disproportionately help the rich.

      That said, Trump’s proposed cut is not, by any stretch of the imagination, reasonably fair. According to the tax policy center, it would lower taxes as follows:

      Bottom quintile: -$50
      2nd quintile: -$230
      Middle quintile: -$420
      4th quintile: -$450
      Top quintile: -$10,610
      Top 1%: -$207,060
      Top 0.1%: -$1,022,120

      It would also repeal the estate tax, one of the safe guards against America becoming a country controlled by dynasties…

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Don’t forget this important piece of the puzzle: Whatever tax savings enjoyed b those bottom-through-4th quintiles, the government will find ways to eat the savings up with increased fees. You may save ~$400 on federal taxes, but you’ll pay higher fees to enter National Parks, pay higher court filling fees, pay higher surcharges on your mobile phone service, etc., ad infinitum.

  11. Grammy says:

    Any body that has a brain knew that “the Donald” had two real agendas, change the inheritance tax law and the tax code. The rest of the garbage that he spouted off about, was to suck in the majority of the republicans with whatever it took that he really didn’t care about.
    So many of people in middle America voted for him to do away with the abortion issue (aan to finally get the Supreme court on their side) . They do not want to support those extra children or pay for birth control but they wanted to sit on their high horse and pass judgment on us morally challenged women that feel that a woman’s body is her own and the government shouldn’t have a decision on it.
    The emperor has no clothes and more people are seeing him for what he has always been about. All mouth no substance.

  12. Kathryn McDonald says:

    If the tax plan slashes the amount we can contribute to a 401k and eliminates our ability to deduct state and local taxes, many of us in California, including me, will see our taxes go up. I urge Shasta County residents to let LaMalfa know that we are against gutting these tax breaks that benefit the middle class.

    • cheyenne says:

      With a graduated state income tax from 1% to 13.3%, the highest in the nation, California would be far more affected by not being able to deduct state taxes than any other state.

    • Tim says:

      Trump is claiming that he doesn’t actually want to reduce 401k deductions, but he is willing to add it to the debate as a negotiating tactic (a strange admission).

      I don’t have a problem with removing state and local tax deductions, but the most recent plan is distinctly partisan by not allowing state income tax deductions yet allowing property tax deductions. Almost all (9 of the top 10) high income-tax states are blue, while half (7 of the top 15) of high property tax states are red.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Not to mention, most of the revenue-producing states are blue, and the revenue-sucking states are red. We’re already subsidizing the Big Red Flyover, and they want more.

        https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/#red-vs-blue

        • Tim says:

          The main revenue-sucking subsidies are medicare and social security — Democratic programs in desperate need of cuts (~$100 trillion in unfunded liabilities).

          • The Old Pretender says:

            Revenue-sucking subsidies– you mean besides the military budget right? Cut that and see how our quality of life is enhanced by properly funding healthcare for all and adequate levels of retirement income.

          • Tim says:

            “Entitlements” make up ~70% of the federal budget. The military is less than 15%.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’d cut the military to the bone. But you could cut it to zero and we’d still be running a deficit.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expenditures_in_the_United_States_federal_budget#/media/File:CBO_Infographic_2016.png

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            If the red states sent more to Washington DC than they receive back (in medicare, social security, and all the rest) like the blue states do, there wouldn’t be deficit spending, and we’d be paying down the federal debt.

            So I repeat: Red states collectively = broke-ass parasitic revenue sucks.

          • Tim says:

            Easy fix, tax the lower quintiles more!

            Bottom 20% earned an average $24,100 and paid $400 in federal taxes.
            Next 20% earned an average $44,200 and paid $3,200 in taxes.
            Middle 20% earned an average $65,400 and paid $7,500 in federal taxes.
            Next 20% earned $95,500 and paid $14,900 in federal taxes.
            Top 20% earned an average $239,100 and paid $57,300 in federal taxes.

        • cheyenne says:

          Steve, in 2012, latest figures, California received $111, 618, 194.00 in Federal Mineral Receipts. Wyoming received $995, 169, 510.00 in FMR. As you know, or should, that represents half of the FMR actually collected from the states. While Wyoming, population 600,000, sent nearly $2 billion to the feds, California, population 38 million, sent less than a quarter billion. Divide that by population for actual figures. And FMRs are sent back to the states to mitigate the impact of mineral extraction in the states, not a subsidy.
          Those figures are from 2012 but with the uptick in fracking which I have detailed, Wyoming as well as Colorado, the figures are probably higher.

      • cheyenne says:

        Tim, you didn’t mention that seven states don’t have a state income tax, Washington being the only true blue state.

  13. Frank Treadway says:

    …and call LaMalfa and ask him how he stands on that extra rifle power device-BumpStock, and POTUS’ tax plan, if he’s for both, start a demonstration in front of his offices in Redding, Oroville & Auburn. He’s out of touch with his constituents. PS, I can’t stand to look at the pix of Mr. T at the beginning of this article, can you put a circle with a slash through it ?

    • K. Beck says:

      I can’t stand any photos, cartoons, etc. depicting …that so called President, nor do I ever want to hear his voice again. I vote for removing the above photo altogether! Good to hear I am not alone in this!

  14. Mary H says:

    I agree with K Beck.. The fewer times I have to see his face and listen to the lies coming from his mouth the better I feel… I vote remove all photos of him

  15. R.V. Scheide says:

    Trump and the Republicans intend to pay for their tax cut by cutting social services to the poor and elderly. They will fail. Sad Christmas for Bannon’s boot lickers.

  16. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Thank you Steve for a superb article. I love the way you think, and I always enjoy reading your thoughts.

  17. Common Sense says:

    The flipping has commenced…..there are only so many get out of jail free cards in Robert Mueller’s Surgical bag…..but it is apparent that some have already made their deal to stay out of jail or at least have their sentences reduced!

    Like fish heading full steam toward the fish hatchery we find that this whole fiasco is much larger and encompasses many more people than most thought.

    Hard to say if they can even get the Tax Cuts done with all the Grenades in the fox hole!

  18. Adrienne says:

    I also understand from the news tonight , one of the things that would be going away would be the allowable medical deductions , or at least greatly reduced. For those of us who are senior citizens and in that part of our lives where medical costs take a larger and larger percentage of our income , I find that thought to be troubling to say the least . Please tell me I’m wrong .

    • Tim says:

      You are correct that Trump’s plan does away with deductions for medical expenses, but I think it still allows deductions for health savings accounts which can then be used for medical expenses.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      The House GOP’s plan caps deductions on mortgage and state/local income tax write-offs. That’s specifically aimed at prosperous blue states like California, which typically have hotter real estate markets (thus bigger mortgages), higher state income taxes, and higher individual earning. It’s a big stiff middle finger aimed at rich blue states that are already paying more to the federal government than they get back.

      And of course, our House representative Dougie LaMooch will offer his weaksauce support to the plan, because he’s the consummate follower.

      • Tim says:

        You can deduct interest on the first $500,000 of a mortgage — that is certainly in line with the stated goal of promoting of home ownership (rather than subsidizing the wealthy).

        It caps state & local tax deductions at $10,000, which would be enough to pay property taxes on a $500,000-1,000,000 home in California depending on location.

        Both seem to be aimed at the rich, no?

        The removal of state income tax deduction altogether was definitely a stiff middle finger to blue states though.

  19. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I know that nobody here thinks Trump’s authoritarian urges are waning, but as proof, this was from a radio interview just yesterday:

    “But you know the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it.”

    He wants to use the Justice Department to go after his political enemies, specifically Hillary, but they keep telling him he can’t do that. It’s very frustrating, thinking you’ve been elected a tin-pot dictator, and then finding out you’re just POTUS.

    • Tim says:

      Did you see Joan Larsen was recently appointed to a lifetime position on the 6th circuit after a 11-9 party line vote to come out of the judiciary committee? Among other issues, she thinks presidents have the right to break the law by invoking national security.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Separation of powers—how quaint.

        In fairness to the Republican Congress membership—who in cases like this appear to be falling all over themselves to hand Trump that tin-pot dictatorship he so desires—nobody made mincemeat out of that separation of powers concept like FDR.

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