Monthly Archives: March 2018

The richest Americans get a $33,000 tax break under the GOP tax law. The poorest get $40.

By Jeff Stein

President Trump talks with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) at the White House on May 4, 2017, after the House pushed through a health-care bill. (Evan Vucci/AP)

The Republican tax law passed last fall will give the richest 1 percent of Americans an average personal income tax break of about $33,000, while the poorest Americans will receive an average personal income tax break of $40, according to a new study published this week by nonpartisan analysts.

The Tax Policy Center, a D.C. think tank, has produced its first analysis of how the GOP law’s changes to personal income taxes alone — rather than that of the law overall — affect the rich and poor.

Previous TPC analyses have already looked at the overall distributional effects of the law, which included a giant tax cut to corporations and a reduction in the estate tax paid by the wealthiest families. The new TPC report isolates the impact of the law’s personal income taxes, suggesting that the corporate cut does not alone account for the law offering its biggest gains to wealthier Americans.

“While most of the corporate tax cuts flow to the top of the income distribution, what this shows is that even in the direct changes to the individual side of the tax code, most of those changes are still being allocated to the top,” said Kim Rueben, a senior fellow at TPC.

The report shows that the majority of Americans in all 50 states will get a tax cut under the GOP law but that the size of its benefits are uneven.

The biggest winners are the richest 1 percent of Americans, or those earning more than $732,800 every year. The smallest bump goes to the poorest income bracket, defined as earning less than $25,000 annually.

The size of the break is bigger for those …read more

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The unhappy states of America: Despite an improving economy, Americans are glum

By Heather Long

Stressed woman

(iStock photo)

The U.S. economy looks pretty good by most measures: Jobs are plentiful, growth is picking up, prices aren’t rising too quickly, and unemployment is on track this year to hit the lowest level since 1969. But Americans aren’t happy.

In fact, Americans are more glum now than they were during the Great Recession, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. While most Americans do feel the economy is improving, the data shows, they don’t think their overall well-being is going up. It could be a warning sign that Americans are concerned about more than “the economy, stupid.”

The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index started in 2008 as a way to assess how Americans are doing beyond the usual financial and economic metrics. Every year, Gallup interviews more than 160,000 adults in the United States and asks them about their sense of purpose, their social relationships, their financial security, their health and their connectedness to their community.

[U.S. economy grew at a pace very close to Trump’s 3 percent goal at end of last year]

In a surprise to the researchers, 2017 turned out to be the worst year for well-being on record. The overall index score was even lower than during the financial crisis, and, for the first time in the decade that Gallup has done this poll, no state in the country showed a statistically significant increase in well-being.

“It was a real eyepopper for us,” said Dan Witters, Gallup research director for the Well-Being Index. “What we found was an unprecedented decline in well-being nationally.”

The unhappiness showed up across the country: Twenty-one states had statistically significant declines in well-being in 2017, compared with 2016. It was “by far the most states we’ve seen drop in a single year,” Witters said, and the decline appeared …read more

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Trump promised $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. He’s 1 percent of the way there.

By Heather Long

When President Trump won the election, many saw infrastructure as a chance for a bipartisan victory. (Jim Watson/AFP)

President Trump traveled to Ohio Thursday for a rally, hoping to revive interest in his plan to revamp America’s roads, bridges, railways and ports.

The president wants $1.5 trillion in new spending on infrastructure, but Congress so far has allocated $21 billion — slightly more than 1 percent of the president’s goal.

Among the president’s top economic plans for America — tax cuts, deregulation, infrastructure and renegotiated trade deals — infrastructure is the area where Trump has accomplished the least.

While Trump has vowed “the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history,” congressional leaders have more modest aims. They plan to move a few small pieces of legislation before the midterm elections, though the bills they’re looking at are mostly to reauthorize funding for existing initiatives and programs, not the massive new investment for which Trump is asking.

When Trump won the election, many saw infrastructure as a chance for a bipartisan victory: Both Democrats and Republicans have talked up the issue, and it has a lot of public support. But infrastructure has repeatedly slipped down the priority list. The White House hasn’t made a major push for infrastructure, and Congress is stuck: They can’t agree on a funding source, and they can’t stomach adding more to the federal deficit.

On Thursday, Trump spent much of his speech in front of hard-hat-wearing workers talking about other subjects: trade, immigration, tax cuts, the media and the revival of TV show “Roseanne.” Senior administration officials insist a big push is coming to woo lawmakers on infrastructure, even beyond Trump’s trip to Richfield, Ohio. Larry Kudlow, the new head of the National Economic Council, is expected to play a role in selling the plan to Congress.

But veteran lobbyists — on …read more

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