Tuesday, March 29, 2011
We Are One Events in Pennsylvania
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
REPORT: In 12 States, GOP Plans To Slash Corporate Taxes While Increasing Burden on Working Families
REPORT: In 12 States, GOP Plans To Slash Corporate Taxes While Increasing Burden on Working Families
ThinkProgress has been documenting conservative efforts to shift the burden of record budget shortfalls onto middle-class Americans, while simultaneously doling out tax cuts to corporations. While progressive governors have proposed raising revenue from those who can afford it, alongside painful cuts to programs, Republican governors have unveiled budgets that cut taxes for corporations and raise them on the middle-class and working poor. In this report, ThinkProgress evaluates the priorities conservatives have set in twelve states:
NEW JERSEY: Last year, Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) budget raised taxes on the working poor and middle-class by cutting the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and homestead rebates — yet still found money for lucrative corporate tax cuts. This year, Christie’s budget calls for $200 million in business tax cuts, while cutting mental health services, $540 million from Medicaid, and witholding property tax rebates for seniors until public workers give up many of their health and pension benefits. Many New Jerseyans have said they prefer a tax on millionaires to Christie’s draconian cuts.
MICHIGAN: Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) budget would make Michigan’s already regressive tax system even more unfair for the state’s poorest residents. The plan cuts taxes on business by more than 86 percent while slashing $1.2 billion in funding for “schools, universities, local governments and other areas.” Snyder also wants to raise personal taxes by 30 percent — an increase that will fall disproportionately on Michigan’s lowest income residents.
GEORGIA: Last week, the Georgia House passed an austerity budget that will increase health insurance costs by more than 20 percent for state workers, teachers and retirees and cut funding for state universities by $75 million. The House has already gutted the state’s HOPE scholarship program, and is now considering implementing a regressive new tax system that would lower income taxes for the rich while raising the sales tax on basic necessities. House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal (R), meanwhile, has introduced a bill that would implement a flat income tax rate and cut corporate taxes by 33 percent.
FLORIDA: At a Tea Party rally last month, Gov. Rick Scott (R) unveiled his budget, telling supporters he would make the state the most “fiscally conservative” in the nation. The budget would slash corporate income and property taxes, lay off 6,700 state employees, cut education funding by $4.8 billion, and cut Medicaid by almost $4 billion.
OHIO: Gov. John Kasich (R) has proposed cutting 25 percent of schools’ budgets, $1 million from food banks, $12 million from children’s hospitals, and $15.9 million from an adoption program for children with special needs. A Kasich staffer revealed yesterday that these cuts are more about politics then budget-balancing, telling the Cincinnati Dispatch that “even if there weren’t an $8 billion deficit, we’d probably be proposing many of the same things.” The plan includes tax cuts for oil companies, a repeal of the estate tax and an income tax cut for the rich that former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) halted last year because of the state’s fiscal crisis.
IOWA: Gov. Tom Branstad (R) began this year proposing a budget that included a $200 million tax cut on commercial property taxes and corporate income but would freeze spending on schools, cut $42 million to state universities and lay off “hundreds” of state workers. Since then, the Governor has already begun laying off state nursing home workers and frozen funding for mental health services. The budget is now moving through the politically divided legislature, where Republican-controlled House committees have gone even further, approving tax refunds for upper-income Iowans while cancelling infrastructure investments, eliminating preschool for 4-year-olds, closing Iowa workforce development offices, and making even deeper cuts to public universities.
PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) presented a budget last week that would cut taxes for corporations, while freezing teacher salaries, cutting dental care for Medicaid recipients, and eliminating more than half of the state’s universities. Yet the state has lots of revenue potential in northern Pennsylvania, where out-of-state energy companies’ “fracking” of natural gas has reaped them hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Corbett has refused to tax these companies, many of which helped fund his gubernatorial campaign, and has instead opted to lay of more than 1,500 state workers.
MAINE: Despite calling for “shared sacrifice” Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) budget would cut income taxes for Maine’s wealthiest one percent, while actually raising property taxes for the state’s middle class. This so-called “jobs budget” freezes healthcare funding for working parents, cuts money for schools and infrastructure and raises the retirement age for public workers. Yet LePage was still able to find more than $200 million in tax cuts for large estates, business and the rich.
WISCONSIN: The tax cuts Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed earlier this year worsened his state’s fiscal condition, so now Walker is planning to raise taxes on the poor, eliminate $26 million in tax credits for seniors and single mothers and cancel property tax rebates for low-income Wisconsinites making less than $24,000 a year.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has proposed ending the state’s corporate income tax, even while she calls for cutting physical education, K-12 schools, and Medicaid. Haley has received pushback from Republican colleagues: last week the legislature rejected her plan to force state employees to pay more for health insurance.
KANSAS: Facing a $493 million budget shortfall, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has called for eliminating the corporate income tax while proposing a $50 million cut to education. With majorities in both Houses, Republicans have proposed a cut to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit that would push 6,500 families below the poverty line.
ARIZONA: Last October, as she ignored 26 other possible funding solutions, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) implemented painful cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, which resulted in 2 deaths and left 98 Arizonians waiting for transplant funding. After months of protests, Brewer finally agreed to set aside $151 million in an “uncompensated-care pool to pay health-care providers for ‘life-saving’ procedures, including transplants.” However, House Republicans refused to restore funding for organ transplants because, as House Appropriations Committee chair Jon Kavanagh (R) said, “not enough lives would be saved to warrant restoring millions in budget cuts.” Then, while peoples’ lives were in danger, Brewer eagerly signed tax cuts for businesses that will cost the state $538 million.
Despite calling for “shared sacrifice” in their plans, Republican governors have yet to ask corporations to share the burden of record budget shortfalls. Ultimately, choosing big business over Main Street could undermine the already slow economic recovery. However, a Main Street Movement in many of these states has emerged to protest placing the burden of deficit reduction solely onto the backs of the middle-class and public employees.
Friday, March 18, 2011
GOP Admits Wisconsin Fight is All About Politics
The following text is from an email sent out by GOP Trust. In the email, they admit their fight against Public Sector Unions is all about politics, and not about the budget. (We've removed the links because they included code that could identify the person who sent us the email.)- MM
Thanks to You
We are Taking Back America
Thank you GOP Trust Supporter:
This morning we delivered a massive blow to Obama's radical agenda. Governor Walker just signed a heroic piece of legislation into law in Wisconsin that will send shockwaves from Madison to Washington, DC.
The brave leaders in Wisconsin were able to take on Big Labor because of your overwhelming support. Our ads provided the much needed counterpunch to the dirty smear machine launched by Obama and the Democrats.
Make no mistake this is the first battle of the 2012 presidential race. The Left and their hired muscle in the unions are raising tons of money on this and we need to fight back or we will walk into 2012 way behind.
If we can break the unions' back in 2011, the Democrats will be on life support to begin 2012.
Thank you for your efforts! This is a great victory but...OUR WORK IS NOT DONE YET!!
We must respond to the unions with strength and resolve.
- SEIU has planned 10 Wisconsin rallies on Saturday and 6 more on Sunday
- The Unions have launched a national campaign to recall 8 conservative Wisconsin senators.
- Big Labor and the Democrats are preparing legal challenges and organizing their biggest rally yet at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
- Big Labor organized a huge march yesterday in-front of the Indiana Capitol.
This battle to reign in the unions is popping up all over the country and we need to come together and remain focused to support the brave leaders taking on this fight.
- Ohio - The State House is just days away from a vote to limit collective bargaining.
- Florida- The legislature is debating legislation to limit teacher tenure and restore commonsense to education.
- Idaho The Governor is ready to sign similar legislation reforming teacher tenure.
- Iowa - The House of Representatives is currently debating legislation to curb collective bargaining rights for government employees.
- Michigan - The Michigan legislature has approved separate measures to give the state the power to break union contracts.
- Indiana - The Senate passed a bill to limit public school teachers' collective bargaining rights and is considering other measures that curb organized labor influence.
- New Hampshire - The House passed a right-to-work bill that prohibits public sector workers from being required to join labor unions.
- Kansas - The House passed legislation outlawing employee payroll deductions for union dues and political action committees.
- Tennessee - The Senate Education Committee just passed a bill that would end teachers' rights to working conditions through collective bargaining.
- 9 Other States - have introduced legislation to limit on public worker collective bargaining: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington.
As Obama said, "elections have consequences." It is our time to take back our country and restore fiscal discipline.
The best investment of 2011 is to crush the Democrat Party's base. We are so close to stripping the Democrats of their power base, WE CANNOT LET UP NOW
Their spinsters are already painting this as a David vs. Goliath battle, as ironically illustrated by multimillionaire Michael Moore's "this is war.... we're going to throw your___ in jail" rant on the Rachel Maddow Show.
The far-left is trying to hijack the narrative here and paint the unions as a counterweight to corporate power, when in reality they have become MORE powerful than corporations under the current administration.
Unions are not the little guy anymore and haven't been for a long time, no matter how politically expedient it may be for them to portray themselves as such.
Now we, the American people, are the little guy and it's time for honest, hard-working Americans who don't have an army of union thugs to back them up to fight back.
The GOP Trust has shifted gears and is fully prepared to take this aggressive campaign nationwide. We will win this war for the future of our great country.
Thank you again for your tremendous support.
Yours for America,
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Fukushima vs. Three Mile Island (Background: March 12, 2011)
The first indication that the Fukushima reactor was in serious trouble came from reports that the Japanese military was flying batteries to the plant. This clue made it clear that the operators were having more problems than just trouble with circulating reactor coolant. It revealed that the operators were losing or had lost electrical control of the reactor systems and that the emergency diesel generators were not working. But the Japanese government and the industry continued to downplay the dire conditions facing them.
This same pattern of denial happened here at Three Mile Island leaving the citizens and their governor bewildered and confused. In fact, radioactive releases at TMI are presently being reported as a miniscule amount of radiation. At least 13 million curies of radiation were released. So it is easy to see how the Japanese crisis brings back various details of the TMI crisis.
Here are some of the similarities and differences:
Threat of a loss of coolant accident
Fukushima: Inadequate cooling allows the water level to drop as water boils away
Three Mile Island: A small break in the coolant loop combined with operators shuting off the high pressure injection pumps
Comments: While this is happening, the companies are claiming that all is well.
Pressure in the reactor building reaches dangerous levels
Fuk: Reports state the pressure is 2.1 times higher than normal and venting is necessary
TMI: Pressure levels increase and then a hydrogen explosion takes place
Comments: The pressure is a result of climbing temperatures combined with loss of coolant
Radioactive release to vent the high pressure
Fuk: A radioactive release is planned but cannot be performed due to lack of electrical control
TMI: A lone rogue operator is blamed for taking it upon himself to vent radiation.
Comments: Many other releases occurred at TMI including “planned” and “unplanned.” One that is never reported is the one that occurred as a result of the hydrogen explosion.
Failed coolant pumps
Fuk: Failed due to loss of electrical power
TMI: Turned off when cavitation threatens to destroy the pumps.
Comments: Without the main source of coolant circulation, controlling the reactor gets difficult
Fuk: Projections are made about a meltdown in 2 days
PTMI: rojections are made about another hydrogen explosion in 2 days
Comments: The original hydrogen explosion at TMI was not revealed by TMI until months later
Fuk: With electrical problems, the operators might be in the dark to varying degrees
TMI: Poor control panel layouts, poorly designed controls, faulty alarm printer
Comments: Even the best planning is foiled when electrical circuits short from sea water or from melted wires.
Fuk: Everything is under control
TMI: Everything is under control
Comments: Code for were having trouble shutting down
Fuk: When the reactor reaches the set conditional threshold, a precautionary evacuation is ordered. As the conditions worsen, the evacuation zone increases in size.
TMI: When the reactor reaches the set conditional threshold, NRC commissioners ignore the protocol to evacuate the population.
Comments: When the evacuation is suggested by the governor of PA, it is only a precautionary evacuation for pregnant women or young children. In both incidents, evacuations are only “cautionary.”
Fuk: Radiation might have “seeped out” or “leaked out”
TMI: NRC commissioners argue for two hours how to word a press release without using the word “release”
Comments: Both incidents avoid the word “release”
Assurances before the crisis
Fuk: Following previous earthquakes, the industry repeated the lie that these robust plants were designed to handle an earthquake
TMI: A meteor would hit your house before a nuclear accident would ever occur We have backup after backup.
Comments: Without properly functioning emergency diesel generators, an accident is only a step or two away.
Fuk: Electrical equipment and radiation shielding is being transported to the scene
TMI:A secret plan called “Operation Ivory Purpose” is prepared by the PA National Guard to evacuate the area.
Comments: Ironically, the US claimed to be providing military assistance to the Japanese accident, while at TMI, the US hid the shipments of Potassium Iodide and lead block radiation shielding to the area.
Fuk: Unknown: The International Atomic Energy Agency is requesting information
TMI: The NRC ran the other way at first stating that they don’t tell licensee how to operate their plants.
Comments: Only one NRC official had a reactor operators license in 1979, the time of the TMI accident.
Fuk: No orders to take the thyroid protecting pill before planned releases.
TMI: No pills available
Comments: The NRC promised to provide these pills following the accident. It took more than 20 years to do that.
Knowing that station blackout is the leading cause of accident conditions in hypothetical analyses, the industry failed miserably by allowing the placement of emergency diesel generators at an elevation which allows flooding or washout by a tsunami.
In 1999 Scott Portzline of TMI Alert performed a study on emergency diesel generator at US nuclear reactors. He found that more than half of US reactor had problems with their generators.
Portzline has urged the NRC to require US nuclear plants to have an extra set of diesel generator which can be driven to the reactor and connected to the electrical bus if the primary set is lost.
A few more facts:
Electrical cables at US nuclear plants have never been tested under accident conditions.
The valve which allowed the loss of coolant at TMI is still not rated a safety component.
Just last week, as a result of steam leaks at two PA nuclear plants, power was reduced. Both of the aging plants recently changed their license to operate at higher temperatures, pressures and output.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Corbett's Response to Letters to His Office on the Budget
Thank you for contacting my office to express your opinion regarding my proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011-2012.
When I came into office in January, Pennsylvania was facing a dire economic situation and a $4.16 billion budget deficit. As I prepared to address these concerns, I focused upon creating a balanced budget built on fiscal discipline, free enterprise, public health and safety, and transparent government.
During this process, my Administration was faced with many difficult policy and budgetary choices. Consequently, it became necessary to reduce or consolidate a number of programs. However, I am confident that the final product puts Pennsylvania on a path to economic sustainability for the future and will enable the job growth necessary to strengthen our economy for decades to come.
To learn more about the specific line-items included in my budget proposal, I invite you to visit our online budget dashboard at www.pa.gov/open.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Corbett's Budget: : Corporate giveaways, higher property taxes, privatizing public services.
Stop this madness. Click here to take action!
Statement of Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress on Governor Corbett’s budget proposal:
“Why are corporations getting tax breaks when we’re struggling to pay our bills?
Politicians like Corbett are using our real economic problems as an excuse to pay back their corporate donors at the expense of the middle class. It's time we return to government by and for the people, not bought and paid for by corporate special interests.
“Corbett’s budget is handing special tax giveaways to billionaires and CEOs and sticking middle class families with the bill.
“There is a better, more balanced way to handle our budget problems. Before cutting education funding, we could close the corporate tax loopholes. Before cutting healthcare and environmental protections, we could enact a tax on drilling natural gas (we’re the only drilling state that doesn’t).
“Corbett could have proposed a budget with a balanced approach, but instead chose a slash and burn budget that rewards CEOs and Wall Street billionaires at the expense of the middle class.”
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Catholics United Asks Governor Corbett to Reverse Decision on Corporate Tax Cut
Take action to stop this outrage here
Pittsburgh, PA – Last week, Governor Corbett implemented a tax cut that will largely benefit Pennsylvania’s wealthiest corporations. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that these tax cuts will cost the State of Pennsylvania $833,000,000 for the 2010 and 2011 tax years combined. The governor’s decision comes at a time when Pennsylvania is facing a $4 billion budget deficit. Pope Benedict and the Catholic bishops have long stressed that economic policy decisions must serve the common good.
In response to Governor Corbett’s decision, Fr. Jack O’Malley, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and labor chaplain for Pennsylvania, issued the following statement:
“At a time when Pennsylvania families will be asked to make historic sacrifices in order to balance the state’s $4 billion budget deficit, Governor Corbett is rewarding his campaign supporters with an $833 million tax break. If Governor Corbett were serious about building an economy that serves the common good, he would reverse this misbegotten decision.”
For more information about the Catholic Church's teachings on a fair economy, see Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate:
Catholics United is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition. This is accomplished through online advocacy and educational activities. For more information, visit www.catholics-united.org.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Corbett tries to sneak through $833 million corporate tax giveaway
Take action to stop this outrage here
(HARRISBURG, PA)—While Pennsylvania is facing a $4 billion deficit, Gov. Tom Corbett approved a corporate tax break of $833 million last week.
Governor Corbett announced Pennsylvania corporations will be allowed to take advantage of federal accelerated bonus depreciation rules adopted as part of the tax cut compromise in December. The rules allow companies to write off or “expense” 100% of equipment purchases made in the last quarter of 2010 and all of Tax Year 2011. The law doubles the size of the bonus depreciation provisions of the Recovery Act, which would have expired in 2010.
The Department of Revenue estimates the provision will cost $200 million for 2010. However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the total cost of this provision for Pennsylvania will be more than $833 million.1
“It is unconscionable that Corbett is kicking the working poor off of AdultBasic, while giving hundreds of millions of dollars to mostly out of state corporations,” said Michael Morrill of Keystone Progress. “Corbett has his priorities upside down.”
Governor Corbett announced that Pennsylvania’s corporate tax will allow corporations to follow federal accelerated bonus depreciation rules adopted as part of the tax cut compromise in December. The rules allow companies to write off or “expense” 100% of equipment purchases made in the last quarter of 2010 and all of Tax Year 2011.
The corporate income tax in many states is, by state law, “coupled” to the federal corporate income tax. Changes in the federal automatically lead to changes in the state tax. In Pennsylvania, however, the law allows state Department of Revenue to determine whether the corporate income tax should follow the federal provisions for depreciation.
Pennsylvania should decouple from the federal rules as it has done with previous federal tax provisions
Bonus depreciation is costly. The Department of Revenue estimates the provision will cost $200 million for 2010. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the total cost of this provision for Pennsylvania will be more than $833 million.
Pennsylvania has decoupled before. In 2002 under Governor Mark Schweiker, PA decoupled from federal bonus depreciation provisions enacted as part of the Bush tax cuts in 2001. Philadelphia also decoupled from the 2001 bonus depreciation.
Other states are moving to decouple from the federal tax now. Pennsylvania should not move in the opposite direction. Because the recession has produced revenue shortfalls in most states, many of those that couple their state corporate tax to the federal tax are moving legislatively to decouple this year.
Bonus depreciation goes to investment in other states not just Pennsylvania. Companies do not have to purchase equipment in the state to take advantage of the provision. Thus the bonus may lead to no new invest ment in the state.
Bonus Depreciation is not an efficient tool to stimulate the economy. The Tax Policy Center rates it a C, arguing that businesses that do not have positive income can’t use the provision. It may lead businesses to reduce capital expenditures in the future, blunting any positive economic impact. According to economist Mark Zandi, accelerated depreciation returned just 27 cents for every dollar spent.
Bonus depreciation will lead directly to spending cuts, which will reduce jobs in Pennsylvania. The federal government can run a deficit, so bonus depreciation at the federal level need not lead to spending cuts. Pennsylvania cannot run a deficit. So bonus depreciation here will require a $200 million reduction in state spending. Keystone Research Center has estimated that a $200 million reduction in state spending will lead to a loss of 5,000 jobs statewide, including 2,000 in the private sector. (http://www.pennbpc.org/legislature-should-enact-budget-saves-jobs-keeps-recovery-track)
Companies can already use federal tax provision to create jobs, a Pennsylvania version is unnecessary. The break on federal taxes will be much greater, providing sufficient incentive to create jobs.
Bonus depreciation undermines state revenues when we need them most. The Corbett administration claims that revenue loss from bonus depreciation will be recouped in later years. But the ongoing effects of the recession have left the state is in a terrible fiscal crisis this year. Tax revenues are needed now more than they will be three years from now.
The revenue loss due to bonus depreciation may never be recovered. The Corbett administration has said that it hopes to reduce business taxes when the economy recovers. If this occurs, the reduction in corporate taxes this year will never be recovered.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Glenn Beck calls Keystone Progress "Communist"
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Tell Congress: Don't discriminate against our families- work to create jobs instead
Out-of-touch politicians want to spend our taxpayer dollars attacking families -- preventing committed couples from being able to take care of each other.
The Obama Administration announced last week that it was not going to defend the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in court. They correctly decided that it is unconstitutional and will no longer use taxpayer money to support discriminatory laws.
DOMA denies gay couples who are legally married the benefits and protections they need to take care of their families. It prevents parents from being able to leave work to care for their spouse's children when they get sick, and denies benefits to a surviving spouse - including ones they've already paid for like Social Security.
We applaud the Obama Administration for recognizing that discrimination is unconstitutional.
But now, Speaker John Boehner has vowed to use the resources of the House of Representatives to keep DOMA in place.
Instead of creating jobs, politicians now want to spend our taxpayer dollars attacking families. All married couples should be able to get the legal protections they need to be responsible for and take care of one another.
Send a message to Congress: Stop supporting discrimination and work to create jobs for our families.
The Team at Keystone Progress
Rabbis & Renewal Jews affirm union rights
In addition, I want to call to everyone's attention an essay on a broad spectrum of rabbinic views concerning labor unions, by Elissa Barrett, exec of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (California) and Rabbi Aryeh Cohen of the Jewish University of America (Los Angeles). To read it, click to our Home Page at http://www.theshalomcenter.org
Shalom, salaam, peace -- Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The ALEPH & OHALAH STATEMENT:
Whereas, Jews for millennia have learned and affirmed the archetypal story of the suffering of ancient Israelites as oppressed public workers under Pharaoh, building the store-cities of Pithom and Ramses, and the vigorous activism of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to organize those workers into an effective community that could win its freedom;
And whereas, ever since the great migration of millions of Jews to America many of them have upheld the rights of workers by organizing labor unions first in the garment industry, and later among teachers, social workers, and other public employees;
Therefore, the Board of ALEPH [and the Board of OHALAH] affirms and supports the right of public employees as well as those in private industry to organize unions and carry on collective bargaining, and supports the nonviolent protests now being carried on in the State of Wisconsin and elsewhere against efforts to undermine or cancel those rights.