Norma Schatz March 2020 Letter

To Plymouth Harbor Democrats…and others who care                   March, 2020

    Presidential Primary is March 17. Vote By Mail Ballots have been sent our to voters.  If you want and have not received one, call 941/861-8618.  NOTE: if you have a VBM ballot and decide to vote in person, be sure to bring that VBM ballot with you or you will not be allowed to vote.    
    Some thoughts in tax season.  The Trump tax bill of 2017, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, gave one percent of Americans 83% of the benefits. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that this year that one percent will get an average tax cut of around $50,000.  CEO pay jumped 7% while typical workers at all of the top 500 U.S. corporations received a 3% pay increase.  Federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, with an estimated 17% drop in purchasing power.  Federal tipped minimum wage is still $2.13 an hour! Sixty profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes on billions in profits in 2018, some even received tax rebates.  In addition to the cut in the corporate tax rate, most tax breaks and loopholes were left in that legislation; the wealthy still had their tax havens. And the budget for the IRS has been cut, making staffing and investigation more difficult. Current proposals  include recalculating the poverty line to lower the number of people the government would classify as poor with access to assistance and health programs, changing the basis on which Social Security is calculated, and changing the law on Medicaid to a program of limited state grants.
    That 2017 tax bill included the so-called Opportunity Zones. Lauded by Trump as revitalizing low-income and impoverished neighborhoods, in practice the gentrification of neighborhoods in too many areas has pushed out old neighbors and mainly benefitted real estate investors and developers. (The Inspector General of the Treasury Dept has opened an inquiry into this program.)
    The Trump Federal Budget for 2021 is unlikely at be approved by this Congress, but gives a clear road map to the direction he and the GOP would take the country if reelected.  The military gets another increase with some of it ($2 Billion plus $8B from the current military budget) going to the border wall.  To make up the trillions lost to the Treasury from the tax bill,  the cuts in his budget include $850 Billion from Medicare, $135 Billion from Medicaid; $70 Billion from Social Security (where already offices have been closed and staff reduced).  Some further cuts include 21% from the State Dept,, 26% from Environmental Protection (by eliminating 50 of its programs and cutting Research and Development in half), 75% from the Office of Energy Efficiency and elimination of the Dept of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects, reduction in financial aid for college, most of Land and Water Conservation Fund.    In the Trump/GOP lexicon fraud and waste occur only in safety net programs but not in the Pentagon budget.  A frightening policy implication is the very large allocation to Departments of Defense and Energy for nuclear weapons and a decrease in investment in diplomacy  

    The Supreme Court on March 4 will hear June Medical Services v Gee that puts women’s reproductive freedom at risk.  Though a similar case was declared unconstitutional in 2016, Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are now on the Court.  

     In Tallahassee, thoughts and prayers abound but bills to ban assault weapons and close gun show loopholes will die. Before the session ends March 14th, the Republican Senate and the Republican House will try to compromise on budgets and issues  that include verifying immigrant worker status and increased pay for teachers.  Florida is 47th in the nation for teacher pay and faces a teacher shortage. No permanent resolution yet in the fight between Gov. DeSantis and the Court on allowing ex-felons to vote.  Still alive and under consideration: the Parents Bill of Rights  allowing public school parents to opt children out of a course or class that they don’t approve of; limiting abortion; revising/relaxing professional licensing; limiting citizen generated initiatives.   For specifics and status of bills go to Legiscan.com/fl. Click on Search and enter the subject that interests you and search will list any bills related to that subject.
    
    Some tine to volunteer?  Go to www.sarasotadems.org or call 941/330-9400.
    Norma H. Schatz…x360…nrma520@yahoo.com


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