Los Angeles – With an expected imminent vote on the proposed tax bill in the Senate, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur issued the following statement:
“In the next day or two, the Senate Republican leadership is expected to rush a vote on an ill-conceived, barely considered and massive tax bill that would benefit the top 1% of Americans and corporations at the expense of LGBTQ people, people living with HIV and AIDS, working families, students, and low-income people.
Nothing about this tax bill – including the process, the gimmicks, and the underlying economic assumptions — is equitable or right and Equality California strongly opposes it. Though every Senate Democrat will vote against it, the odds of passage are improving, especially since Arizona Senator John McCain said yesterday that he would vote in favor – even though the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation calculated that $1 trillion would be added to Federal budget deficit over the next decade.
Particularly hard-hit would be millions of low-income LGBTQ people who rely on vital social programs to make ends meet because the tax bill contains deep, across-the-board spending cuts on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor seniors and people with disabilities, including those living with HIV and AIDS.
Equality California is also extremely concerned about a provision of the Senate bill which presents yet another attack on the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era program that made it possible for millions of LGBTQ people to secure comprehensive, affordable and non-discriminatory health insurance for the first time. If the Senate tax bill is enacted as currently drafted, the individual mandate would be repealed, which would lead to an estimated 13 million people dropping from ACA coverage, and drastic spikes in insurance premiums.
Middle-income people would also be hurt by the GOP tax plan because of they would gradually be moved up to higher tax brackets while their modest tax cuts would phase out, unlike corporate tax breaks which would be made permanent. Residents in high-tax states like California, New York and Massachusetts would be disproportionately hit by the elimination of state and local tax deductions; a hole in state and local revenue totaling as much as $370 billion over ten years would obviously reverberate through all social services, such as healthcare, education, public transportation and other state and local services.
Educators and students would also be severely impacted; teachers would no longer be allowed to take deductions for items they purchase for their classrooms and people with outstanding educational loans would no longer be allowed to deduct the interest they pay. The Senate GOP tax bill would also require graduate students to pay taxes on the stipends they receive. And the tax bill would tax investment earnings from university endowments, which could result in cuts in financial aid for low-income college and graduate school students.
Also of grave concern to Equality California and a wide coalition of other progressive organizations and faith leaders, even some evangelicals, is a potential provision in the Senate tax bill that would repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment. As explained in this blog piece, a repeal would like lead to billionaire donors diverting floods of secret political money into right-wing churches or sham houses of worship, all the while receiving tax deductions for their “charitable contributions.”
Desperate for a legislative win, Senate Republican leaders are reportedly cutting deals with senators who have expressed unease with the loss of health coverage, ballooning deficit, and certain business exemptions.
On World AIDS Day, there is no time to lose — the Senate is only setting aside 20 hours for debate. We are calling on all our members to call their Senators at (202) 224-3121 to oppose this bill.”
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org