President Donald Trump and Capitol Hill Republicans this week unveiled their new tax bill touted as a “Christmas present” for American households. However, tax payers in California may end paying a significant price for the passage of this new tax legislation as the many write-offs for state and local income taxes—including mortgage interest deductions—will be eliminated.
Critics say the 429-page bill, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” is skewed heavily toward businesses and the wealthy. These reservations were apparently not lost on some California GOP representatives such as Darrell Issa (CA-49), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) who decided to vote against the measure, while House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Steve Knight (CA-25) and Tom McClintock (CA-4) each opted to vote in favor the bill after some hand-wringing and extensive consultation with their constituents.
Knight heard from residents of his district earlier this week as dozens marched in front of his Antelope Valley headquarters in protest of his decision. In the first version of the bill in November, Knight reportedly voted in favor of removing tax deductions for people seeking disaster relief. This move just weeks before the tragic Southern California wildfires drew the anger of the protesters.
The Democrats have been quick to pounce on the imbalance—and “unfairness”—of the tax bill. Californias, for instance, will see their state tax and property tax deductions capped at $10,000.
“What we are seeing is a plan that exacerbates the unfairness and iinequality in our tax code,” said aSenate Majority Chuck Schumer. “The Republican tax plan would put two thumbs down on a scale already tipped toward the wealthy and powerful. Surely we can do better.”
It’s the season of giving, but there’s currently a 71-year-old Grinch lurking in the Oval Office. Word on the street is that he’s not too fond of Black people, independent women and, least of all, illegal immigrants.
Trump’s budget proposes to cut some $2.5 trillion over the next decade across programs for low- and moderate-income people, including a range of important programs for which the states receive significant federal funds:
Trump’s budget would drive millions of people off of food stamps, part of a new wave of spending-cut proposals that already are getting panned by lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill.
Cuts include a whopping $193 billion from food stamps over the coming decade — a cut of more than 25 percent — implemented by cutting back eligibility and imposing additional work requirements, according to talking points circulated by the White House.
The program presently serves about 42 million people. The food-stamp cuts are several times as large as those attempted by House Republicans a few years back and make up the bulk of a 10-year, $274 billion proposal that’s labeled as welfare reform.
The fleshed-out proposal follows up on an unpopular partial release in March that targeted the budgets of domestic agencies and foreign aid for cuts averaging 10 percent — and made lawmakers in both parties recoil.
Trump wrote in his letter to Congress, “We must reform our welfare system so that it does not discourage able-bodied adults from working, which takes away scarce resources from those in real need. Work must be the center of our social policy.”
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said at a press conference, “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”
The number of recipients on food stamps skyrocketed recently; 50 million Americans now receive food stamps and use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards at grocery or convenience store to buy food and drinks. The 50 million citizens on food stamps amount to 15 percent of the population, a substantial increase from the 17 million Americans who received food stamps in 2000.
Trump’s budget, expected to be unveiled before the New Year, will reportedly include $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid—a move that underscores the President’s resolve to significantly downsize the federal program even as Republican lawmakers are clashing over the issue in Congress.
The House legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act—President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law also known as Obamacare—would significantly curtail federal support for Medicaid.
Under that bill, in 2020, states that expanded the program would no longer receive enhanced funding to cover low-income adults, while states that did not expand previously would not be able to do so, starting immediately. Some 11 million adults have gained coverage under Medicaid expansion.
Also, the bill would reduce federal funding for the entire Medicaid program, which covers more than 70 million low-income children, adults, disabled Americans and the elderly. States would either receive a set amount of funding per enrollee, known as a per capita grant, or fixed funding in the form of a block grant.
The GOP bill would slash federal support of Medicaid by 25 percent by 2026, compared to current law, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Trump’s proposed $2.2 billion cut to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 2018 would reduce states’ federal TANF funds by 10 to 18 percent (depending on whether a state receives TANF Contingency Funds). Over the next decade, the TANF cut would total $22 billion, including a $15.6 billion reduction in the amount of money the federal government gives to states to deliver benefits.
(TANF) provides temporary cash for families in need. Some families participate in the WorkFirst Program. The WorkFirst Program helps participants find and keep jobs. Persons who are caring for a relative’s child, or legal guardians or are acting in the place of immigrant parents able to apply for TANF benefits on behalf of these children through the Non-Needy Relative, In Loco Parentis and Legal Guardian Program.
When welfare reform was implemented in 1996, it fundamentally changed the design of the program. The federal government once shared the burden of any increased need and costs with the states, which meant funding rose automatically. But after the program was converted into a block grant, states began receiving a fixed amount of money no matter how many people might qualify for the benefit.
Reducing the TANF block grant by as much as Trump’s budget calls for will only exacerbate the number of families living in deep poverty.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD owns and maintains public-housing complexes across America, provides vouchers for low-income people to live in private housing, and distributes grants that help nonprofits and developers invest in essential parts of neighborhoods, such as apartments and parks. The budget proposes a $6.2 billion cut from HUD next year, which would represent a 13.2 percent decrease from the level of funding for this year.
The budget eliminates the roughly $3 billion of funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides money for neighborhood investment
It also eliminates funding for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which provides grants for low-income people to buy or rehabilitate homes, and the Choice Neighborhoods program, which provides grants to organizations attempting to revitalize neighborhoods.
Additional Cuts of Interest to Minorities
Trump’s proposed budget would also dispose of $4.2 billion in community-services programs from the Department of Health and Human Services such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides funds to help poor people pay energy bills in winter. It would cut $1.2 billion in funding in before-school and after-school programs and summer programs from the Department of Education. It would eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation, which helps low-income people with legal issues, such as fighting an eviction in court. It would get rid of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund from the Department of Treasury, which provides capital to underserved neighborhoods and programs.