Monday, January 15, 2018

PF Chat: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

PF Chat: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
You're in for a treat today, dear readers. Instead of being subjected to my "thoughts" and "expertise" all on their own, they will thankfully be hidden among those of some actually intelligent and accomplished experts in the personal finance community.

We have Jamila from Journey to Launch, Piggy from Bitches Get Riches, as well as Kara from Bravely and Tanja from Our Next Life. The latter pair also are the creators of The Fairer Cents podcast. 

This week the PF Chat focused on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and, friends, we did not pull any punches. As always, there is some NSFW language. Enjoy.

Piggy: 
Anybody else here?

Kara: 
Here!

Piggy: 
Wooo!

Kara: 
Ready 2 do this. 💪

Piggy: 
I watched like nine youtube videos on the tax plan yesterday, so I'm basically an expert now.

Kara: 
Dayum you are an expert.

Piggy: 
Right?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Hi.

Piggy: 
Tanjaaaaa!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Piggaaaaaaaay!

Jamila:
Hello.

Piggy: 
Hi!!!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Hi hi!

Jamila:
I read some articles but still don't know anything, lol.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
I was up all night writing an Obamacare post, so if we wanna talk about that instead, I'm cool with that. 😉

Done by Forty: 
Hi everyone! Sorry to be a bit late.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Hi!

Jamila:
I'm at work and may get pulled into a meeting at 12:30. 😕

Piggy: 
(No worries, Jamila.)

Done by Forty: 
Okay, I think we have everyone here, and now we're all experts.

Let's get going!

What's one part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act you think will be good for our country or economy, or good for you personally?

Piggy: 
Limiting the mortgage income deduction.

Done by Forty: 
^Agreed. 

I like that the tax bill knocks the feet from under the mortgage interest deduction. This will potentially impact home prices in already-expensive cities, slowing the rate at which housing becomes unaffordable. More importantly though, I think it helps the progressive income tax system work better by shrinking, if not totally eliminating, a loophole that primarily benefits owners of very expensive houses.

Kara: 
Honestly, I think this whole bill is pretty awful, but something that might work out for me is the reduction for corporations since I'm an LLC with my business.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
If "good for me personally" is purely financial and selfish, the raised standard deduction will benefit me and Mark now that we've just retired and likely won't itemize again in the future. We've always itemized while working, but 2017 will be our last itemizing year, so timing is good for us in that sense.

Done by Forty: 
True, the larger standard deduction is likely good for early retirees, although eliminating the personal exemptions mitigates that.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
We paid off our house this year so stopped benefiting from the mortgage interest deduction anyway, but it's a little scary to think about a potential housing crash in the expensive cities/states that the loss of the deduction could trigger.

Jamila:
So far it seems the benefits would be that it has raised the standard reduction and child tax credit per child. (I'm about to have baby # 3.)

Piggy: 
I've also heard that the bill incentivizes having children, which, since I don't have any doesn't affect me one way or another. But could help families.

Oh! Congrats Jamila!

Done by Forty: 
Congrats, Jamila!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Woot @Jamila!

Jamila:
I'm in the process of getting my LLC, so the reduction in taxes for businesses will help me down the line (once I start making money lol)

Kara: 
Congrattsss!!

Jamila:
Thank you!

Kara: 
👶

Done by Forty: 
Just to glom on to Jamila, we're also having our first baby in 2018. Tax credits, here we come.

Jamila:
Although the tax bill change isn't that great enough to make me have another...I'm officially done!

Kara: 
👶 x2!!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
We were planning to do an S Corp in California for blog related stuff and consulting, but now need to start that research over because of corp changes.

Piggy: 
Hahaha!

Jamila:
Congrats to you too!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Congrats!

Piggy: 
Ok, so that's one good thing: reduced baby tax. (Put in extremely basic terms.)

Done by Forty: 
Thank you!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
And more of that child tax credit is refundable instead of just a tax reduction, so that's great for lower income parents.

Done by Forty: 
Thanks, Marco Rubio...question mark?

Piggy: 
That might be the only thing good for low-income people...

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yup.

P.S. I'm taller than Marco Rubio. I stood next to him at SFO last year.

(So the "Little Marco" thing is true.)

Done by Forty: 
That's amazing. Did you pat him on his adorable little head?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
He already looked so miserable to be surrounded by all the love in SF that I thought that was punishment enough.

Kara: 
As I believe the lowest income person on this chat, and probably the lowest net worth, it's hard to think of positives. This thing is an atrocity for low income people in lots of ways.

Piggy: 
Kara I couldn't agree more.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
AGREED! Agreed X 10.

Done by Forty: 
Kara's giving us a good transition here.

What part of the bill do you think will be bad for our society, or economy as a whole, or a specific/vulnerable population?

Piggy: 
The fact that taxes are only temporarily lowered for low-income people and then they GO BACK UP means that the poor might as well just sock their tax returns away for a few years when they'll need to give them back to the government.

Kara: 
I think the cap on SALT is awful (which I know we'll get into later), and how the tax cuts EXPIRE for families and small businesses, but not giant corporations, is the worst thing.

Done by Forty: 
Yeah, the expiration of tax cuts for individuals is surprisingly bad policy. I'm surprised they could sell that.

Or maybe the upcoming elections will show how well they sold it.

Piggy: 
That's the thing though: they didn't sell it! They got negative polls on the first draft, and then made it WORSE in the second draft, not even responding to the majority of the public's complaints. It wasn't sold, Congress was like "LA LA LA WE CAN'T HEAR YOU."

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yes, absolutely. I live in CA, which has a progressive tax code, but you don't have to earn much to hit the $10K cap between income tax and property tax, especially in the highest housing cost areas.

Jamila:
Yes, I think the fact this all reverts back at some point is not good, these seem like temporary changes not really meant to spark ongoing growth.

Kara: 
The US is 99% small businesses. "Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses.

  "2.    • Firms with less than 20 workers made up 89.4 percent of businesses." -SBEC

It honestly reminds me of the last season of parks and rec, they had a joke about Chipotle, Exxon, and Comcast merging to be ‘one of America’s eight companies’ and that’s what’s happening. We’re allowing giant corps breaks and help that small companies don’t get, and it will stamp out innovation.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
The idea of this spurring economic growth is a bad faith assertion, anyway. Tax cuts have never created economic growth or jobs, and Congress knows it.

Piggy: 
Exactly.

Kara: 
@Piggy exactly, it was very head in the sand. And I think this year's elections will be a reckoning.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
God I hope so.

Piggy: 
Trickle down? More like trickle... no? Sorry guys I thought I could make that funny.

Kara: 
A for effort, and sound economics tho.

Piggy: 
Thanks, that means a lot to me.

Done by Forty: 
I'm not keen on the way that the plan pays for corporate tax cuts with a change in the way that individual’s tax brackets are indexed to inflation. By using chained-CPI, individuals and families will move in to higher tax brackets more quickly than they would have under the prior system.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yes, that's not something that I think most people grasp.

Piggy: 
That hadn't even occurred to me!

Done by Forty: 
Yeah, it's a sneaky but material part of the bill that many people won't notice.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
One of the more devious moves, imo.

So folks will pay more even if they don't feel like they earn more. And the chained-CPI shift is permanent and won't sunset with the individual rate cuts.

Jamila:
It may spur temporary growth but I don't see how it will be sustainable or "trickle" down to the people who need help the most.

Done by Forty: 
I'll half-heartedly play devil's advocate here...

Piggy: 
Yes, and it looks like the temporary growth will end juuuuuust in time for a major election.
  
Do it!

Done by Forty: 
I think it's fair to say we'd advocate for others to invest. Might a cut in corporate taxes be quite good for those of us who invest for retirement?

I'm not saying it will result in higher wages or hiring...

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Because corporations always do the right thing by workers, you mean?

(Sarcasm)

Done by Forty: 
I just mean that for those with a 401k/IRA, couldn't this increase families' retirement nest eggs?

Piggy: 
Dubiously, yes...

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Say more about that. Because it would raise share prices?

Done by Forty: 
Yeah, corporations have more or less said they will do stock buy backs and pay dividends. Both would be good for those with retirement savings.

*The big caveat is that so few Americans have material retirement savings that this is still bad policy.

But...it's not all bad.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
It's so rich get richer.

Kara: 
Yeah, I think there's many layers to that question. Ideally, sure we'd want people to invest tax cuts. But there are so many other layers to it. And those layers are often forgotten by the 'Money is simple! Spend less than you earn, invest the rest' crowd.

Jamila:
Companies like AT&T and American Airlines announced giving their worked $1,000 in bonuses *due* to this tax cut but what does that really mean for the employee?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
The 401(k) is a massive piece of failed policy given how few actually use it meaningfully. Same with IRAs. So yay for giving more to those who already have the most?

Done by Forty: 
I feel dirty taking the devil's advocate position.

Piggy: 
It's ok, we still love you.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Hahaha. We know you don't believe that stuff.

Kara: 
Also, AT&T fired like a thousand people a week after that announcement sooooooo…

What is the real effect here?

Piggy: 
Oh, ok. Coooool...

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yay corporate America!

Jamila:
I didn't even know that Kara, wow.

Piggy: 
Thinking big picture, there's a lot of talk of what corporations "will" do, without anything in place to make them do it.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
That's the biggest sticking point for me.

Kara: 
Here's an article on it: 
PF Chat: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Piggy: 
Trickle-down economics and cutting taxes on the wealthy/corporations is a nice idea.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
On some level it even seems logical!

Piggy: 
But there's no proof that they'll actually create jobs/pass the wealth down to their employees/etc.

Oh! And can anyone find the poll of corporate owners who were basically like "Yeah nah, we're pocketing the money."

Done by Forty: 
I can't even be mad at the corporations: they told senators & representatives what they were going to do with the money.

Piggy: 
Yes! That's what I was thinking of.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Given how little Walmart would have to raise prices for example (pennies on most products) to pay its workers a living wage, and yet they don't do it, we can't ever assume corps will pay people more or lower prices or raise environmental standards or whatever else unless they are forced to.

Kara: 
Yup! And historically, corporations just give CEO's higher salaries/bonuses, and funnel money to stockholders, not to workers.

Piggy: 
Right.

Done by Forty: 
Agreed: this bill is really designed to help corporations' balance sheets, at the expense of a bunch of individuals.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
YES.

Kara: 
Agreed. Corporations are expected to save $1 TRILLION in the next decade.

Jamila:
Ok, so what can the average person reading this do?

Done by Forty: 
Okay, let's see if we can pivot a bit. Certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act seem to explicitly target citizens in high tax states, which tend to be blue states, such as limiting the SALT deduction. In this case, tax policy also seems to be playing politics. How do you see this bill impacting state and local economies that have higher taxes? What impacts do you think this will have on the personal finances of people living in these areas?

Wait, before we get to that, let's do Jamila's question first. What can the average person reading this do?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Aw man, I was all raring to talk about how this is clearly directed at punishing California, as are numerous recent Congressional and White House moves lately. :wink:

Kara: 
I think that’s absolutely the point of some of the bill. As a low earner in a red state, I think another goal here is to also stop people from moving to blue states. Texas is a lot of messed up things, but it’s cheap in many ways. I can’t afford California any way you cut it, and now with these kind of blows to the economy, living there would be like moving to downtown London for my budget.

Jamila:
It’s going to be implemented either way right? So what should the average lower to middle class American do to better their standing in this new tax era?

Piggy: 
Pay property taxes in advance.

PF Chat: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
"Before the new tax law takes effect, you can prepay your 2018 property tax bill. But the IRS will only allow the deduction in 2017 under certain circumstances."

Tanja Our Next Life: 
The "What can you do?" answer to me is all about the people making this policy. Vote! Vote them out! Ensure that the lower income and middle income tax cuts become permanent, and the rates on the wealthy and corporations rise.

Done by Forty: 
Yaaaas! Vote.

Piggy: 
Yassss always vote! That's something we don't talk about enough in PF.

(Bahahaha great minds yass alike.)

Jamila:
Agreed.

Piggy: 
But voting is a long-term solution, and people are going to be hurt NOW. How can they protect themselves?

Kara: 
I'm an average American, income-wise. I don't own property, I freelance, and I'm not married. This bill is a big kick in the pants to me. @Tanja is totally right, that VOTING is a part of my action. And also, honestly: aggressive savings. I limit myself in a lot of ways to have more cash on hand as a legit safety measure against the republican government.

Done by Forty: 
Politics is a game in which the people have the advantage. Maybe the only game. When we vote in large numbers, we get policies that closer align to what large groups of individuals want.

Jamila:
But exactly Piggy, what can they do now?

Done by Forty: 
Here's one thing: even though we don't like the bill, people who are currently paying taxes will pay a bit less.

That money can and should be used to pay down debts, save, and invest, if at all possible.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
There aren't easy answers for them. Try to put away what they save in the early years.

Do everything possible to work toward a higher paying job, whether that's through retraining or moving.

The irony, @Kara, is that if the goal is to limit moving to blue states, all they are doing is hastening the rate at which red states turn blue.

Kara: 
Yeah honestly, increasing income to avoid some of the worst policies is a good goal.

Piggy: 
True: before the rates go back up, invest in your career and education so you can increase your income.

Kara: 
But also a very hard one for many people, especially older, or disabled people. They are left in the cold.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Absolutely.

Piggy: 
God, thinking about the elderly on fixed incomes...

Kara: 
@Tanja, here's hoping! When I moved to Texas 5 years ago I heard a lot of 'Turn Texas purple"...still solidly red.

Jamila:
So true, it's unfortunate.... We have a president in office and policies in place and a society designed to favor the wealthy and privileged.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Oh, dude, they haven't even gotten to their Social Security and Medicare cuts yet. It's going to get worse for millions of people who are least able to adapt.

Done by Forty: 
Let's pivot a bit to the red blue thing.

Certain aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act seem to explicitly target citizens in high tax states, which tend to be blue states, such as limiting the SALT deduction. In this case, tax policy also seems to be playing politics. How do you see this bill impacting state and local economies that have higher taxes? What impacts do you think this will have on the personal finances of people living in these areas?

Kara: 
I think local economies are going to be bearing a lot more of a burden when it comes to public and social policies.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
California is actively exploring every loophole, and given that the goal of this tax "reform" was to simplify taxes (p.s. It failed), it's ironic that we're going to end up with more loopholes and complications.

Kara: 
I just read a story about a school in Pittsburgh that had to crowdfund the salary for an elementary school librarian.

Jamila:
I think this will just continue to widen the gap because the people with the means to gain the tax system, will still find ways to do it. They will create more businesses and find ways to increase tax write offs

Piggy: 
High tax areas also tend to be high COL areas. So back to the MID, that could hurt people trying to buy homes in those areas even more.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
And if the federal government is taking in less revenue, they will expect states to pick up the slack, but states will have a strong disincentive against that given that its citizens won't be able to claim that tax.

Frankly, I'm shocked at how many GOP lawmakers voted for double taxation.

Done by Forty: 
^Agreed. I think Tanja nailed it.

Piggy: 
YES.

Done by Forty: 
This law will seem to put a lot of pressure on areas that have high state income taxes and high property taxes: less can be deducted.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if local governments are pressured to lower taxes.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
We live in an R district (hope not for long!), and our MoC originally voted against the tax bill on double taxation grounds. But later flipped.

Piggy: 
We're going to decrease tax revenue by a significant margin. And it's not like we DON'T need that money.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
California is exploring setting up a state charity and you can get your state income tax refunded if you give in an equal amount to the state charity, which is then fully deductible. I mean, ridiculous that we're seriously considering that. But of course we have to.

Piggy: 
I think Tanja's right--the burden will be carried by local governments.

Done by Forty: 
I saw that NY was planning something similar, Tanja.

I have to believe that's going to be challenged at the national level: the feds are counting on that additional revenue.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
I know both are also considering increasing payroll taxes and lowering income taxes, because companies can still fully write off payroll.

Kara: 
Keep that faith, @Done by Forty.

Done by Forty: 
😃

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Though there's also legal precedent and standing to knock down the SALT limitation, so expect many lawsuits from both sides.

Done by Forty: 
I'll play devil's advocate again...

Piggy: 
Do it.

Done by Forty: 
Aren't the people who'd be deducting $10,000 or more in SALT, or using a $750,000 or greater mortgage, generally pretty wealthy?

Or, rather, have pretty high incomes?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Pardon my language, but fuck no.

Done by Forty: 
Why should we argue for deductions for these well-to-dos?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
In the urban areas in CA, housing costs are so out of control that having a $10K property tax bill is not hard.

Especially if you then add in even a little state income tax, and a couple filing jointly.

Done by Forty: 
I see what you're saying. But aren't those hit hardest the people who have a much larger SALT deduction than $10k?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
I understand the spirit of your playing devil's advocate, but if the idea of this bill was fairness, it would look very different. You wouldn't see all the corporate welfare and the giveaways to the wealthy. Instead, it's clearly focused on shifting the tax burden to the lower income levels of people. So the idea of "people with that many deductions can afford" it is laughable on its face.

Piggy: 
And if I may play devil's advocate, that's just punishment for those people wasting their money on "booze, women, and movies" rather than investing it like valuable members of society.

Done by Forty: 
Ha!!!!

Kara: 
HAHAHA

Tanja Our Next Life: 
There's also just something so antithetical to American values about the SALT limitation in particular. You already paid that money out as tax. Why would you be taxed on it again? Didn't we trigger the Revolutionary War over something similar?

Piggy: 
(Actually, that's just straight sarcasm.)

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Those damn bitches. They be expensive.

Done by Forty: 
I hear what you're saying Tanja.

Kara: 
I saw a tweet by a Brit that was like "Waiting for the Americans to dump the new tax bill in the Boston harbor. People just don't revolt like they used to.”

And I cackled.

Piggy: 
bahahahaha

Jamila:
Ok folks... I have to hop off, "the man" is calling and I need to be able to pay my tax bill this year.

Done by Forty: 
See you, Jamila! And congrats!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Go get paid, Jamila!

Kara: 
Bye Jamila! Thanks for hanging while you could. And congrats again!

Done by Forty: 
Thanks for chatting!

Jamila:
I came into this convo not knowing much but learned a great deal. I have some more researching and reading to do.

Thanks again, everyone!

Done by Forty: 
Again, just to play devil's advocate, this is the one part of the law that actually seems somewhat progressive: it hits people who have very large mortgages and (because they earn more) pay more in taxes. The rub is that it doesn't account for very HCOL areas.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Essentially everything in federal code has locality adjustments. If that were actually progressive, it would, at a minimum, do that.

Kara: 
There is no nuance to the bill.

Done by Forty: 
Agreed, Tanja. I'm just playing around for the sake of conversation.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
But it would also need a more serious correction for different types of tax.

Of course! 😉

Done by Forty: 
These areas are already in a tough spot re: taxes, in that the federal income tax doesn't care if you are in a high cost-of-living area that (hopefully) comes with a somewhat higher income to compensate for the higher costs. To Uncle Sam, if you earn more, you pay more, geography and COL be damned.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Only in this, though. If you work for the federal government, you get three times as much of an allowance to stay in a hotel room in San Francisco as you do to stay in Topeka, Kansas.

Those are the clues that confirm this is politically motivated all the way.

Piggy: 
Hey, wait a minute!

That's not FAIR.

Sorry, my inner idealist spoke up...

But @Tanja is right. It's very politically motivated.

Done by Forty: 
Completely. This was a big middle finger to blue states.

Kara: 
Which is insane! Congress is playing with people's lives literally willy-nilly.

Piggy: 
Why else would there be the provision benefitting real estate investors (hey that's our president...) and owners of private jets (half of Congress) and corporate leaders (political donors).

Done by Forty: 
It seems we're in a winner-take-all type of political environment, which is now impacting tax policy.

Maybe in a future chat we can discuss the type of liberal agenda we want to set in 2018 and 2020? 😃

Piggy: 
Not to go all feel the Bern here, but this is precisely why lobbying and Citizens United have real consequences on our legislature

Done by Forty: 
Yup.

Piggy: 
Ok!

Done by Forty for Congress!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
The thing we can all take some comfort in is that they clearly didn't think this thing through. It was so rushed that they couldn't possibly have done so. I'm convinced there are many, MANY things in here that will backfire for them.

Piggy: 
Right.

Done by Forty: 
Silver lining.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
I mean, obviously we need Oprah to run.

Piggy: 
Anyone remember when the GOP complained that the ACA was rushed through?

Kara: 
Oh god.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yes, because the ACA only took a year.

Done by Forty: 
Yes, I especially loved the comparisons to ACA...

It only had dozens of public hearings.

Kara: 
@Piggy, the hypocrisy in this vs that situation....

Done by Forty: 
Anyway, I can't get on a rant about the hypocrisy.

Piggy: 
And was adjusted based on polling and input from the opposition party

Yes, let's not.

Done by Forty: 
I had one more question...

By doubling the standard deduction but eliminating the personal exemption, many fewer people will likely itemize. Do you think this will have a material impact on donations to charities?

Piggy: 
Well, you can only deduct charitable donations if you itemize.

So for those who use charitable giving as a way to get around taxes, I would say it would definitely have a negative impact.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Oh, absolutely. Charities are terrified right now.

Kara: 
I think it may. Personally, I've never itemized and therefore deducted my charitable donations.

Piggy: 
And let's face it, most wealthy people are very tax/politically motivated with the charitable giving.

Done by Forty: 
My guess is that we'll see a drop in charitable donations. Those who earn a lot and itemize are losing some incentive with the standard deduction increasing. But maybe the donor advised fund will mitigate the impact -- Tanja has written about this, I believe.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yeah, I do think we'll see that a lot more people than usual loaded up DAFs last year to prepare for this. But it won't replace all the lost giving.

Data show that the poor give a much higher percentage of their income than the rich, and if the rich lose their motivation, then that will decrease further.

Done by Forty: 
That's a great point, Tanja.

Piggy: 
Speaking of hypocrisy...

Tanja Our Next Life: 
And just because of scale, we need the rich to give. Particularly if we're in the process of defunding critical social programs.

Kara: 
Yup.

Done by Forty: 
The well off give more in dollars, but less in percentage.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Yes.

Done by Forty: 
If we take away their main incentive....

Tanja Our Next Life: 
You got it.

Piggy: 
I'm very nervous about what will be defunded given how much tax revenue the federal government will lose because of this bill.

As Tanja said, critical social programs are already on the chopping block

Tanja Our Next Life: 
That's the whole game, though, right? Starve the beast then complain that the beast is too hungry.

Done by Forty: 
I religiously tweet my thoughts on the GOP playbook:

1. Create massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
2. Grow the deficit.
3. Gasp at the deficit.
4. Cut government programs to address deficit.

We just saw step one.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
I'm slightly shocked that Congress has signaled Medicare and Social Security are next, only because that's a surefire way to alienate their best voting block.

Done by Forty: 
I am surprised by that, too.

Piggy: 
That's true.

Done by Forty: 
It seems like bad politics, but kudos for being honest about it, Mr. Ryan.

Piggy: 
Perhaps they're counting on them to die faster without their benefits?

Done by Forty: 
LOL. So dark @Piggy.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Though we've already learned that Paul Ryan is not actually smart.

Kara: 
And welfare programs! Listen, I grew up on food stamps, and the fact that they're looking to cut that is heartbreaking.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
So...

Piggy: 
Yeah but Kara, food stamp recipients vote blue, sooooo...

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Or don't vote.

Done by Forty: 
That's the part that's so disheartening. Adding to the deficit is one thing, but the biggest costs are yet to come. Future cuts, fewer donations to charities, who knows how many impacts to vulnerable communities.

Piggy: 
We've circled right back around: voting is our only salvation.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Voting propensity is totally income linked, and that's something we have to work hard to change.

Kara: 
Truth! I know a lot of low income people; a few of them vote for a variety of reasons.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
We have a morally bankrupt government that is willing to risk people's lives and doom their futures (defunding children's health care, education, etc.) for political gain.

Kara: 
And to keep money where it is: bottlenecked at the top.

Piggy: 
Careful guys. We're sounding a lot like radical leftists!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Sorry, sorry. I forgot our job is to smile and nod.

Kara: 
See y'all at the meeting later. 😃

Done by Forty: 
Comrades, how can we best bring about the revolution?

Piggy: 
Armed rebellion in the streets!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Since we can't deduct charitable contributions this year, I say funnel those donations to political action instead. Vote them out.

Piggy: 
Behead the aristocracy!

Done by Forty: 
I like that idea, Tanja.

But yes, failing that, let's go with Piggy's idea.

Piggy: 
That's a great idea. The political action donations, not the putting me in charge of an armed rebellion: that's a terrible idea.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
We are focused this year on unseating our Congressional rep and Dean Heller, the senator next door.
Pick your targets, and go after them.

Kara: 
In Texas, let's vote out Cruz and vote in Beto O'Rourke!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Oh, I can lead the armed rebellion no problem. I have time now!

Piggy: 
How can we help habitual non-voters to show up at the polls?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
"Why am I persecuted?!"

Done by Forty: 
I like how willing this group is to discuss the interaction of the financial and the political. Did not see this coming.

Kara: 
DRIVE THEM THERE.

Piggy: 
lololol

Yes! Driving!

Though I live in a state with mail-in ballots.

Kara: 
Seriously, one of the biggest blocks to getting people to vote is just getting them to polling stations. Sign up to drive people to the polls if you can.

Ah. Lucky.

Tanja Our Next Life: 
CA is going to all mail ballots. That has shown some slight increase in participation in other states, but of course the Alex Jones crowd will shout voter fraud. 🙄

Piggy: 
Though there's a legal limit on how many ballots you can drop off at the polling collection station at once.

So how do we get people to register?

Listen, Tanya. 3 MILLION ILLEGALS VOTED FOR KILLARY.

Kara: 
Another thing to help: get people registered. I host events in Austin, and at some of them this year we'll have tables where you can register.

Done by Forty: 
Very cool, Kara.

Piggy: 
That's wonderful!

Kara: 
Gotta put my money where my mouth is!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Every state needs motor voter. When I signed up for Obamacare, it has a voter reg form attached. We need it attached to everything, which is state politics. And the answer for that is: Pay attention to state level races, not just the national ones!

State leaders are the ones disenfranchising voters, not congressional Republicans.

Piggy: 
Truth.

Is there a process for arranging to have registration at events?

Kara: 
No! At least here. You can just call a depot and get a deputy to come out with forms. I was actually a registered deputy two years ago and could register people to vote myself.

Done by Forty: 
Okay, we're coming up on an hour. Let's get in our last words.

What's the one take away you'd like to give to readers on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

Tanja Our Next Life: 
WE NEED MORE WOMEN IN OFFICE. That is all.

Piggy: 
Save your money, register to vote, donate to charity, and VIVA LA REVOLUCION!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Donate to political action, too!

Kara: 
Final thoughts: Save more, help people vote, question friggen everything Congress says

If any readers want to get in on this revolution, shoot me an email: info@bravelygo.co 😉

Piggy: 
Bahahahah!

Done by Forty: 
That seems like a great place to end. Thanks, comrades.

Piggy: 
Thanks all!!!

Tanja Our Next Life: 
Solidarity.


Again, I would like to thank our amazing contributors: Jamila from Journey to Launch, Piggy from Bitches Get Riches, and Kara from Bravely & Tanja from Our Next Life, as well as The Fairer Cents podcast. If you're not already reading and listening to the stuff they create, you're missing out.


*Photo is from Tobyotter at Flickr Creative Commons.

14 comments:

  1. I'm going to voter registrar training tomorrow so I can register voters! (My husband did this MONTHS ago.) Primaries for 2018 are coming up! I am an introvert to the extreme and hate talking to strangers, but this is so important.

    Also: People who want to get involved (but not necessarily with the Democratic National Party), check to see if there's an Indivisible group in your area. They're doing great work. If all you have time for is calling your representatives, 5calls dot org is a tremendous resource. If you don't want to call but can handle faxing, faxzero lets you fax your senators and representatives for free. (We also have an Activism tab on our blog with more links to ways to get involved.)

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    1. I love that you're taking action and helping getting people registered to vote. Regardless of which way people lean, we do better as a democracy when more people participate.

      And I love the tips on different ways to contact representatives. I've heard that faxes are, for whatever reason, pretty effective in getting representatives to listen.

      And yes, please click over to nicoleandmaggie's site and click the Activism tab if you want to learn more:

      https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/

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  2. Wow. Great conversation. I couldn't agree more that the only real solution here is to vote early and often. I sincerely hope that the daily dose of crazy brought on by this regime will get people off of their butts and to the polls.

    One other random thought. Denver has a senior citizen property tax exemption. If you're 65 or over and have owned your home for at least 10 years, you don't have to pay property taxes - I think you have to apply for the exemption, it's not automatic, but I've never heard of anyone meeting the criteria being denied. I wonder if more areas will consider something similar. Of course it cuts both ways since it reduces local tax revenues, but it might offer at least some protection for that vulnerable population.

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    1. Hi EcoCatLady!

      Completely agree on the best long term solution to bad policies is to vote for people who will create better policies. In the meantime...


      I, too, am a bit torn on that sort of property tax law. Being off the hook entirely for property taxes is maybe one bridge too far? (This may prove I am a bad liberal.) Maricopa County has some sort of protection that caps increases on property taxes at 5% a year (with no cap on how much taxes can decrease in the event of, say, a housing crash).

      Still, your larger point remains regardless of how we deal with this problem: if we're not getting as much in property taxes, then we're likely not funding schools as well.

      In a blue sky sort of brainstorming, I'd like to consider that governments find a different way of funding local municipalities than property and sales taxes (e.g. - how about replacing those regressive/flatter taxes with a progressive income tax)?

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  3. You're having a baby?? I must've missed something. My area has something similar to Cat's - senior citizens are exempt from a bunch of things like school taxes, street light fees, property taxes - but they have to apply every year, which costs $50ish. And I hope people vote too!

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    1. Hi Amanda!

      Yes! We're having a little one. There was a tiny clue hidden in the last post, which outlined a new item in our budget.

      I like the general concept of allowing people without the means to avoid paying taxes they truly can't afford. But surely SOME senior citizens are doing quite well...maybe there's a way to means test? Maybe other vulnerable populations should be included in addition to the elderly?

      They cynic in me wonders if this is another example of a powerful voting block getting legislation passed...

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  4. Tactical but I think important to note comment. I would just like to point out that the act is not called the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act". The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that that marketing name violated the Senate budget rules and thus they couldn't use that duplicitous name.

    It is actually called the "Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018".

    The more you know ;-).

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    1. I didn't know that, Tin! Though I have to say, it doesn't really roll off the tongue.

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  5. Congrats on the upcoming new DbF member! :)

    I'm having one of those days where all the wrong feels overwhelming and I need to just pick one thing to do.

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    1. Thanks, Revanche!

      Sorry your day is going that way. I definitely agree with the strategy of 'just one thing' when I'm overwhelmed.

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  6. I'm curious as to which Pittsburgh school! We have some great ones in our purple state, but we also are one of the few states that still lack a fair funding formula, so it could be one of a few. I could just ask the Google gods.

    And my biggest concern is the temporary nature of the cuts (c'mon, conservative PF world--would you rather have $5 today or have the govt take $7 from you in eight years?) and the inevitable and now disclosed planned cuts to social programs. I'm middle income, and I think a lot more people need to worry about themselves as much as they're worrying about the poor. If this bill increases income inequality the way it's projected to, the additions to the low income demographic are going to come from the current middle. It's good to have empathy, and I'm over the moon happy to see so much of it. But I also worry the middle class is precluding itself from the negative consequences because of the very short-term marginal wins. (Also, middle income earners can and do still benefit from programs like CHIP, Medicaid in cases of disability, Medicare in the same way and in retirement, SS...these safety nets serve a wide income threshold.)

    Why are Republicans doing this? Because they're getting their pockets lined and then getting out of office. Not all of them. But a lot of them.

    Great convo--fun to read. Liking this series a lot.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Femme Frugality! And again, my apologies for not getting back to you earlier on that post -- life has up and gotten crazy in 2018.

      The temporary nature of the cuts for individuals (plus the move to Chained CPI) is really worrying. People probably won't notice the impact for quite a while...but in 2025, they're going to become aware.

      And yeah, the other shoe is definitely going to drop soon, as Congress starts making cuts to government programs.

      Inequality is something we should have touched on more in the chat. That's likely the main consequence, long term.

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  7. You just HAD to put a picture of that douche-bag on your post, didn'tcha!?! :-)
    I'm not a fan of the bill but I do think lowering the corporate tax rate is a good move. I also appreciate the boosted per child credit. That helps LOADS. What sucked is the itemization hit. We had to pay our 2018 p-taxes early to get one more year of benefit there.
    Overall, the idiots gave meager scraps to middle class and I'm really tired of hearing about the 1% continuing to grab more and more. Bring in Oprah or Ellen in 2020. Let's fix this shit.

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    1. Ha! Yeah, I couldn't resist the photo of Ryan. It's just such a smug face he's making.

      I agree that the boosted child credit is good for a lot of families (though the fact that it's not fully refundable means that poor families well get less benefit than higher earners).

      I'm hypothetically okay with somewhat lower corporate taxes, but this is a HUGE tax cut for corporations that, in the long term, we're all going to pay for as they add to the deficit. I'd rather we saw more meager cuts or, if we're okay adding to the deficit, having the cuts slant more towards families than companies. Just my $0.02.

      As you said, the big problem is that we're just going to add to the problem of massive inequality.

      As you said, time to fix this shit. But to do so, we need to not just win the white house, but Congress, too.

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